Ministry of Health allays all fears, doubts regarding measles vaccination campaign

Muscat - 

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has said that measles vaccination has no side-effects as feared by public. This is in response to the many messages and apprehensions raised on why the government has chosen only a particular age group for the vaccination campaign. MoH clarified the current vaccination campaign targets only those between the age of 20 and 35 years because they are less immune to the disease.

“The vaccine has no side-effects and it has been used by many countries. Our research suggests that cases reported in 2016 and 2017 were between the age group of 20 and 35 years. Secondly, we found that both males and females in this age group are less immune to measles,” said Dr Samir Shah, epidemiologist at the department of communicable diseases, MoH, who is also part of the campaign.

“According to our research, Oman has been administering vaccines to all newborns from 1996 and so those born here and below 20 years would have got the vaccination. And for those above 35, immunity level is high,” Dr Shah said.

Dr Shah assured that there is no harm in getting the vaccination a second time as it will only improve immunity. An audio message being circulated through WhatsApp is propagating how the vaccine can affect one’s brain. The message apparently by a housemaid says that the vaccine is being administered so that workers lose control over themselves and follow their employers blindly. Another message says that it will weaken one’s productivity.

“My housemaid refuses to get herself vaccinated saying that her relatives have advised her against it as they think the vaccine will make her totally dependent on her employer. No amount of convincing has helped so far. She refused even after my wife got herself vaccinated. She said she had received the vaccine before coming to Oman and does not want another one,” Abdullah al Khaldi said.

MoH stated that it is conducting the campaign under the guidance of academic institutions and international agencies like the World Health Organization. As a precautionary measure, it has said that women should avoid getting pregnant for a month after taking the measles vaccination. “This is just a theoretical risk for which we advise women not to get pregnant for at least a month after getting vaccinated. The vaccine is safe for woman post-pregnancy,” Dr Shah said.

He added that the response has been good so far and the ministry is fixing the loopholes whenever and wherever the campaign is not going on as planned. “Overall, we hope to meet our expectations,” Dr Shah said. The first phase of the campaign was held from May 14-27.

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