Kazakhstan expands measles immunisation programme

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakh hospitals expanded starting April 1 the nation’s free measles immunisation programme in response to an outbreak that occurred at the end of 2018 and in response to a more recent outbreak in Europe.

Photo credit: ortcom.kz.

The data of daily monitoring from Jan. 1 registered 4,670 cases of measles in Kazakhstan, reports the Ministry of Healthcare. The majority, 71.2 percent, of the cases are among children under 14 years old. To date, 74 patients are under treatment, 19 of them are in Nur-Sultan.

The national clinics use MMR vaccine (vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella) manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. The World Health Organisation (WHO) guarantees its safety. More than 70 countries have been using this vaccine, including Kazakhstan, over the past 10 years.

The SK-Pharmacia distributing company purchased 651,500 doses of the vaccine at the expense of the national budget for 788.4 million tenge (US$2.08 million). In May, another 468,000 doses of vaccine will be purchased. The price per one dose is 1,209 tenge (US$3.2).

Over 10,000 people have been vaccinated by the end of March.

Unvaccinated expectant mothers, who missed immunisation because of the shortage of vaccines in the late 1980s and early 1990s, spread the infection, said the Healthcare Ministry’s Public Health Protection Committee Chair – Chief State Sanitary Doctor Zhandarbek Bekshin at a March 29 press conference in Central Communications Service.

“Given the epidemiological situation of viral infections, including measles, we recommend mothers with young children, as well as all those who have not received a preventive vaccination for various reasons, to abstain from visiting crowded places until the measles epidemic situation has stabilised,” Bekshin said.

The Healthcare Ministry’s Public Health Protection Committee Chair – Chief State Sanitary Doctor Zhandarbek Bekshin. Photo credit: ortcom.kz.

The vaccination will be free for people in the following categories: infants who reached nine months, people under 30 years with an unknown vaccination status, people who were not vaccinated and have not had measles, vaccinated five or more years ago with a single vaccine against measles in a foci of infection, and medical workers having a higher risk of infection due to frequent contacts with potential measles patients.

According to the data from the Healthcare Ministry, unvaccinated children account for 60.2 percent of the measles incidence in Kazakhstan. Yet 54 percent of these unvaccinated children are under-vaccination age (under 12 months).

As for children older than one year, 32 percent were unvaccinated due to medical problems, such as acute and exacerbation of chronic diseases, oncological diseases and severe progressive diseases of the central nervous system. The remaining 13.9 percent of children were not vaccinated due to their parents’ refusal.