Fiji takes ‘small steps for big effects’ with the launch of its national Measles-Rubella Supplementary Immunization Activity

Today Fiji takes one step closer to eliminating measles and rubella through the launch of a national Measles-Rubella Supplementary Immunization Activity.

From 8-30 September 2017, the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services, with support from the WHO and UNICEF, will be providing free-of-charge life-saving measles-rubella vaccines to Fijian children.

An ambitious target of 95% immunization coverage has been set – this means approximately 236,000 children between the age of 12 months to 10 years, regardless of their measles immunization or illness history.

Over the next 21 days health care providers will be travelling throughout Fiji’s 19 sub-divisions, including its most remote island communities, to deliver the vaccines.

Immunization is critical to protecting children from measles and rubella as the vaccine provides the best protection against these diseases.

To date tremendous progress has been made both globally and in the Pacific to reduce the number of childhood deaths due to measles.

However, recent outbreaks in neighbouring Pacific countries provide a “stark reminder that the gains made are fragile and it is very important that high vaccination coverage is sustained” highlighted Dr Corinne Capuano, World Health Organization Representative in the South Pacific and Director of Pacific Technical Support. Dr Capuano congratulated the Government of Fiji for “its commitment to protect the children of Fiji through immunization. Supplementary immunization is a special activity to immunize children over a short period of time to quickly raise communal immunity against the risks from measles and rubella”.

WHO will continue working alongside the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services and other partners to support Fiji’s elimination of measles and rubella.