ISLAMABAD - All children up to the age of 15 years, residing in the areas of Islamabad from where measles cases are being reported, will be targeted with two doses of vaccination during a mop-up campaign and visiting children of all the public and private hospitals will also be injected vaccine to contain the mini-outbreaks.
The decision was taken at a meeting held at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) to review the small outbreaks in rural areas and the city. The high-powered committee developed a consensus on some short-term and long-term decisions to respond cohesively during the current outbreak of measles and in future.
Pims Executive Director Dr Riaz Warriach chaired the meeting that was attended by head departments of paediatrics of all the public and private hospitals, National Manager of Expanded Programme on Immunisation Dr Zahid Larik, Capital Development Authority (CDA) Health Services Director Dr Hassan Orooj and representatives of Islamabad Capital Territory.
Dr Tabish Hazir, head of the department of pediatrics at Pims informed that the meeting decided to have close coordination between different hospitals and officials of ICT, CDA and EPI for the vaccination campaign. ‘A taskforce has been established having representatives of all the hospitals, health departments of CDA and ICT for immediate reporting and surveillance of cases to EPI, which will dispatch vaccination teams to the affected area’. A focal person will be appointed in each of Islamabad’s hospitals for daily communication with EPI staff.
He informed that currently EPI has been facing shortage of measles vaccine but for this campaign the programme head has made a commitment to ensure its provision. There is a shortage of vaccinators too as there are only 11 vaccinators for the whole city. The seats were never increased since the establishment of the capital city but now the committee has recommended to increase the posts of vaccinators. Besides, visiting children of all the public and private sector hospitals will be injected the vaccine for the disease.
He said the meeting strongly recommended to ensure the routine immunisation of the children for various diseases as the low levels of immunisation coverage cause such outbreaks. Punjab that stands out the best among other provinces for its performance has only 58 percent coverage levels, he said.
He informed that a media group has also been recommended to make aware people regarding the disease and its preventative measures.
As many child patients who have contracted measles had been vaccinated against the disease, the officials recommended double verification and a thorough investigation into the characteristics of the virus.
And for the double verification that is a standard practice across the world, blood samples of the affected children would be sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad and Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, to devise preemptive strategies for control.