Sabah steps up measles prevention after Penampang outbreak

KOTA KINABALU: A measles vaccination programme is being carried out in Penampang district with 30 cases reported in the first five weeks of this year.

Sabah Health Department director Datuk Dr Asits Sanna noted that no cases were reported in the corresponding period last year.

He said 87% of cases in the district this year involved Malaysians, with 67% of the total patients aged 18 and above.

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“Of these 30 patients, 17% received at least one dose of measles vaccination while 27% have never received any measles vaccine,” he said in a statement on Thursday (Feb 8).

Dr Asits said 53% did not know their vaccination status while 3% were not yet eligible for the vaccine.

To curb the spread of measles, the Penampang Health Clinic is conducting a series of intervention programmes including a full epidemiological investigation, laboratory and environmental investigation, health promotional activities and supplementary immunisation activity (SIA), he said.

Nurses vaccinating a child. Nurses vaccinating a child.

SIA is typically conducted within a 1km radius from a measles outbreak locality with inoculation delivered to all targeted individuals no matter their vaccination status.

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“Areas with low immunisation coverage and high-risk areas are also included,” Dr Asits said, adding that 16 case localities have been identified for the SIA so far.

He said a total of 366 children between the ages of six months and 15 years have been vaccinated, 231 (63%) of them Malaysians.

In Putri Bahang Apartments, 47 children were given the measles vaccine on Monday and Tuesday (Feb 5 and 6).

The vaccines being administered during the SIA in Penampang are measles monovalent, measles rubella (MR) or measles mumps rubella (MMR), Dr Asits added.

ALSO READ: Sabah authorities tackle measles outbreak in Penampang

The measles immunisation rate for Penampang has reached 95%, in line with the Health Ministry’s target, he said.

“The problem we have now is to ascertain the vaccination status of some residents in Penampang, especially immigrants and the undocumented because they are nomadic,” he said.

However, efforts to reach all target groups will be enhanced while continuous awareness on the importance of immunisation will be conducted, Dr Asits said.

“We hope the public will give full support and cooperation to our efforts,” he added.