Measles cases tripled so far this year, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Measles cases tripled so far this year

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There were 43 measles cases in the first four months of this year, nearly three times the number seen during the same period last year, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday.

All were sporadic or had a limited spread, and there was no community outbreak, said Mr Gan.

He added the cases were a result of more measles outbreaks around the world and Singapore, as a travel hub, is more exposed to imported cases.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Gan said patients in 33 of the 43 cases had not been vaccinated against the disease.

Nine of those not vaccinated were infants under a year old who were not yet due for vaccination, while the rest were a mix of children and adults.

The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is generally given in two doses - the first when a baby turns a year old and the second when the child is between 15 and 18 months old.

Vaccination is mandatory for local children and foreign children applying for long-term Singapore passes.

The Health Ministry's figures show 95 per cent of children receive the first dose by age two, with 93 per cent receiving the second dose by age seven.

"We are monitoring the global and local situation closely. We have alerted our doctors to look out for measles cases and notify the ministry promptly so that actions can be taken to prevent (the spread of the disease)," Mr Gan said.

Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar GRC) asked Mr Gan for the reasons parents do not get their children vaccinated, and if any action would be taken against these parents.

Mr Gan said most parents were "waiting for the next convenient occasion to bring their children for vaccination, and unfortunately, sometimes that occasion never came".

Currently, the Health Promotion Board sends reminders to parents whose children have not completed their vaccinations by age two.

But the Health Ministry is considering sending reminders to parents ahead of vaccination due dates, to ensure children are protected as early as possible, the minister said.

Singapore Politics