China to vaccinate 100 million against measles

In an effort to eliminate measles, nearly 100 million children in China will be vaccinated against the disease this month.

China recorded more than 52,000 cases of measles in 2009, Yahoo!Health reports. Measles is the leading cause of avoidable death and disability in developing countries. Most people recover from the disease, though some suffer complications that include blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, pneumonia and ear infections.

China's measles cases made up 86 percent of all cases in the western Pacific, Micheal O'Leary, the World Health Organization's representative in China, told Yahoo!Health.

"Vaccinating every child, even those who have been vaccinated in the past, is essential in stopping the virus with a wall of immunity in the population," O'Leary told Yahoo!Health.

Residents of remote areas, urban areas and China's large migrant populations often have less access to vaccines, O'Leary said, and are not protected against measles.

This month's measles vaccination campaign is a single-dose exercise, David Hipgrave, chief of health and nutrition at UNICEF China told Yahoo!Health.

"It's a catch-up campaign to boost the levels of immunity among children who may have missed the second dose, or in whom one of the doses was not effective," Hipgrave said.

Worldwide, approximately 164,000 people died from measles in 2008. Children under the age of five were the most affected by the disease.