A measles outbreak has sickened 100 and killed 5 children in the Nimba County in Liberia. A UNICEF supported immunization campaign is underway; eighty teams of health workers have spread out across Nimba County over the past week to immunize all children between six months and 16 years of age. The teams have also distributed vitamin A supplements, as well as de-worming tablets for children under five. According to UNICEF:
The emergency campaign is critical to stop a wider measles outbreak, because routine immunization coverage in the area is low – but also because of an influx of around 32,000 refugees who have fled political violence in Côte d’Ivoire since December. Many are children whose immunization status is unknown.
This is yet another painful reminder that contrary to what some anti-vaccine proponents say, people do indeed die from these diseases, and to the people seeing firsthand both the destruction and death such diseases bring, and the relief that vaccines bring, the anti-vaccine rhetoric would be as alien as a child dying from measles is to the anti-vaccine proponents themselves.
In related measles news, Cambodia has launched a nationwide measles immunization campaign to vaccinate all infants and children aged from 9 months to 5 years with one dose of measles vaccine. Over 1,500,000 children will be vaccinated, and the immunization campaign will run from February till late March 2011. The goal is in line with the country’s, along with 35 other countries and territories in the Western Pacific, committment to achieving the national goal of the elimination of measles by 2012.