UAE schoolchildren to get measles vaccination –

Dubai: Starting November, thousands of students across UAE schools will be given the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine as part of a nationwide campaign to eradicate measles.

All schools in UAE have been instructed by the Ministry of Health to provide the vaccine free of charge to all children between the ages of 1 to 18 even if they have been vaccinated earlier.

Only those children who have a doctor’s order of contraindication to the vaccination can be exempted.

The initiative, which is being held in partnership with the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), is aimed at building stronger immunity against measles and even those who have already been vaccinated are being encouraged to get this shot to boost their immunity.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by the measles virus, which mostly infects children and adults. The airborne disease spreads easily through coughs and sneezes of those infected. People are infectious from four days before and four days after the start of the rash or symptoms of the disease, while the incubation period lasts for 10 days.

The symptoms of the disease are similar to that of flu, including cough, coryza (catarrhal inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nose, caused especially by a cold), along with conjunctivitis (sore eyes), fever and rashes on the face and neck of the patient. The rash then spreads to the lower parts of the body and lasts between one and three days.

There is no specific cure for measles except for an MMR vaccination which is administered periodically with booster doses that can ensure total immunity from the condition. Protection through vaccination is the only way possible to prevent the disease and provide a healthy future, free of such contagious and serious illnesses.

However, injury from vaccination is a major fear that many parents have expressed to schools. A spokesperson from one particular Indian curriculum school which received 600 affirmations from parents to go ahead with the vaccination, told Gulf News that some parents have expressed their doubts and resistance to compliance with the order due to the widespread belief that the MMR vaccine can lead to triggering of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in children, an unfounded belief with no medical evidence.

“The Ministry of Health has sent in an extensive FAQ on MMR vaccine to dispel the fears of parents. However, there is nothing much we can do if a parent is not willing. In such cases the parents have to furnish evidence that their child has been vaccinated earlier and has received the booster dose as well,” he said.

In addition to this, a 2013 study conducted by the Centre for Disease Control categorically ruled out any connection between ASD and any vaccine, including MMR.

In case of contraindications, any child who has an anaphylactic reaction to eggs, such as swelling around the mouth and throat with difficulty in swallowing following consumption of eggs, can be exempted from taking the MMR vaccination, provided he or she can produce a contraindication certificate from a doctor stating the same.

“The MMR is a live vaccine which is grown in chicken embryo culture and can contain traces of avian protein harmful to children who have egg allergy,” the spokesperson added.

In the meanwhile the Ministry of Health is encouraging all parents to get their children vaccinated again regardless of the previous dose as it will build their immunity. Dispelling common myths against MMR vaccination, Dr Laila Al Jasmi, Head of Vaccination Department at the Ministry of Health, said: “The MMR vaccine is safe and will be widely available during the national immunisation programme. The vaccine aims to improve the immunity of the targeted classes and avoid occurrences of this disease in the UAE,” she said.