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OVER 80,000 CHILDREN IMMUNISED THROUGH THE NATIONAL MEN C IMMUNISATION PROGRAM

OVER 80,000 CHILDREN IMMUNISED THROUGH THE NATIONAL MEN C IMMUNISATION PROGRAM

The National Meningococcal (Men C) Immunisation Program, in its 4th week has to date immunised over 80,000 children aged 1-19 years across the Central Division and the Ra Sub-Division.

The Ministry’s Immunisation team has achieved 100 percent visitations to all schools in Ra-Subdivision and 89 percent visitations to schools in the Central Division.

The nation-wide mass immunisation campaign led by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services is supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).  The Men-C immunisation programme aims to immunise all children and teenagers in Fiji aged between 1 to 19 years of age, free of cost, and is being delivered at schools, kindergartens, health centres and nursing stations across Fiji. The program began in the Central Division and Ra Subdivision on 14th May and will continue until Friday 29th June 2018.

The immunisation campaign will be rolled out in the Eastern, Northern and Western Divisions in the coming months. The shipment of the next round of 200,000 doses is to ensure that the 320,000 children between the ages of 1-19 years in Fiji will be immunised. Children and teenagers are most at-risk of contracting Men-C.  The vast majority of cases in 2018 have been under the age of 19.

The Ministry would like to remind the general public that Men.C Immunisation is safe, it is effective, and it saves lives. Mass immunisation of Fijian youths also helps to protect the broader community, as it has been shown to significantly prevent the ongoing transmission of the bacteria within a population.

Meanwhile, the Ministry would like to thank all the parents who have consented so far to have their children vaccinated.  The Ministry also acknowledges the teachers and the communities for their ongoing support for the National Meningococcal (Men C) Immunisation Program.

Parents who are yet to give consent for their children to be immunised are reminded that Meningococcal disease is a deadly disease and it’s in the best interest of the children that they should get immunised.

  • For children aged 1-5 years old, who do not attend school, parents and guardians can get them immunised by taking them to the nearest health centre or nursing station.
  • For children aged 5 -17 years old, and in school, immunisation teams are visiting schools and immunising children under parental consent. If any child misses out on their immunisation at school, parents are encouraged to take their child to the nearest health centre or nursing station.
  • For children aged 18-19 years old, undertaking tertiary level studies, stays home or is working, it is advised that you visit the nearest health centre or nursing station
  • Consent forms are provided to children under the age of 18 years, and immunisation will only be given to those children with a signed parental consent form.

Families are advised to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of this deadly disease and practice proper hygiene to prevent it from spreading. Men-C is treatable when caught in its early stages, but early detection is key to survival. If there is any sign suspect meningococcal disease, immediately go to a health facility to be assessed.

How to prevent the spread of diseases such as meningococcal disease:

Fijians are encouraged to practise proper hygiene by:

  • Covering their mouth and nose with a tissue or handkerchief when coughing and sneezing
  • Disposing of used tissues in the bin or washing your handkerchiefs daily with soap and water
  • After coughing or sneezing, wash your hands with soap and water
  • Don’t share eating utensils, cups/glasses/water bottles, drinks at social gathering (taki), cigarettes or kava bowls.

Further information about meningococcal disease:

Symptoms of meningococcal disease, especially for older children and adults include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck/backache

Other symptoms include nausea, eyes are sensitive to light, confusion, and in the final stages of the disease, a red/purple rash on the skin.

In babies and small children, parents and carers should stay alert for the following symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Unusual crying
  • Refusing to eat or drink
  • Vomiting
  • Floppy/drowsiness
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Seizures or fits

In the final stages of the disease, a red/purple rash on the skin.

For further information about the disease, visit the Ministry’s website: http://www.health.gov.fj/?page_id=6575 for information on Immunisation roll out program visit http://www.health.gov.fj/?page_id=6884

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YAKO JOINS COMMUNITY HEALTH AND FITNESS PROGRAM

Yako Village has become the latest community in the country to join the Community Health and Fitness Program following the launch by the Minister for Health and Medical Services Hon. Rosy Sofia Akbar at its village hall today. The village, through the programme, has received two fitness bikes, three sewing machines, and steam cooker sets.

Turaga ni Koro Samisoni Raidriwa said the villagers were honoured to have hosted the programme, adding that they would put these equipment to the best use.

“As the case in  Fijian settlements and villages, we only exercise when we are young, and as we grow older, we tend to stop doing things that help us stay fit and healthy,” he said.

“As a result of this we have five villagers who have undergone amputation. We have now realized the need to continuously engage in health and fitness exercises and we are grateful that we have now received these equipment.”

Minister Akbar urged the villager to use the equipment to its full potentials however, highlighted the need for the villagers to take ownership of the equipment through taking good care of it.

“I urge you all especially our mothers and the women of the village to also use this equipment because most of the time we are left behind but we must be able to stay fit and feed our family members healthy foods,” Minister Akbar said.

“Please take good care of the equipment because it is your equipment and everybody must take responsibility in its upkeep and maintenance.”

(Pictures from this event can be accessed from the Fijian Government Facebook page.)

Vaccination response to meningococcal outbreak at St John’s College Cawaci, Levuka

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MOHMS) has been working closely with the Ministry of Education and World Health Organization (WHO) to address the recent outbreak of meningococcal disease at the St John’s College Cawaci in Levuka, Ovalau Island.

Meningococcal disease is a life threatening bacterial infection that usually causes inflammation on the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and/or blood poisoning (meningococcemia). Whilst the disease is not common, it is a very serious illness that can develop quickly and cause death.

In response to the outbreak, the MOHMS sent a vaccination team to Levuka to vaccinate all students and staff at the college with the meningococcal vaccine, Sanofi Pasteur Menactra. Vaccination is critical to preventing the spread of meningococcal disease as the vaccine builds a person’s immune system to fight against the bacteria.

The meningococcal vaccine was supplied by the WHO and provides protection against meningococcal serogroup A, C, Y, W135. Testing of suspected case samples in Australian laboratories, facilitated by WHO, confirmed that meningococcal serogroup C was responsible for this recent outbreak.

The vaccine was administered by a single injection in the upper arm. This vaccine can cause some side effects, such as low grade fever, nausea, diarrhea, headaches and swelling where the injection was given; however the risk of serious side effects is extremely low. As such a team of medical staff were assigned to monitor all students in the school following their vaccination and treat any complaints.

In addition to the vaccination program, the MOHMS will continue to provide important meningococcal health information to equip students and staff with necessary knowledge about the disease and increase monitoring of students to support early detection and rapid treatment of potential new cases.