Vietnam to vaccinate 7.5 million children against measles

Vietnam's Ministry of Health has launched a new campaign to vaccinate 7.5 million children between the ages of nine and 18 months against measles.

The vaccinations, which will be administered through September 24, are expected to cover at least 95 percent of the target population, Vietnam News reports.

"More than 7,000 cases of measles were reported in 2009, that's why we've launched the campaign," Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the National Expanded Program on Immunization, told Vietnam News.

The vaccination campaign will focus on outlying provinces, replacing a previous policy from 2002 that provided two measles vaccinations to children at nine months and six years of age.

By providing the two vaccinations in a span of nine months, officials believe resistance rates to measles will increase to more than 95 percent. Only 85 percent of children, Vietnam News reports, were protected after receiving their first measles vaccine shot.

The vaccinations are part of a campaign to minimize measles outbreaks by 2012, Hien told Vietnam News, adding that 15 percent of children under six years of age face a risk of catching measles or acting as measles carriers.

Vietnam's last major measles outbreak occurred in 2009, when measles spread to all of the nation's 63 localities. No fatalities, however, were reported.

Vietnam has reported more than 1,600 measles cases during the first eight months of 2010.