In response to the current outbreak and in an effort to control the spread of meningococcal infection in Fiji, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services will be conducting a nationwide vaccination campaign targeting children from the ages of 1 year to 19 years.
The purpose of the vaccination is to protect individual children who may be susceptible to the infection and also to control the current outbreak.
The vaccination campaign will commence from next week Monday14th of May 2018 in the central division and Ra Subdivision. The Men.C vaccination campaign will continue throughout all the other divisions till the vaccination of all children within this age group is completed.
As part of the preparation plans, the Health Ministry has organised two days training this week for the nurses who will be involved in the Men. C Vaccination campaign. The training held in Suva began on Monday this week and is attended by 60 nurses from central division and Ra subdivision health facilities.
The Health Ministry’s National Advisor Family Health Dr Torika Tamani says that the training is to empower the nurses and health professionals on the finer details of Men. C Vaccine and strategize on the operational plan for conducting this mass immunisation campaign.
“In terms of the participants we are having nurses from the central division including Ra medical subdivision in the western division. As we progress with the rollout of the Men. C vaccine, we will also conduct similar trainings for the western, northern and the eastern teams.
“Discussions focussed on conducting vaccinations through schools and health facilities. Those children outside school settings can get vaccinated at the health facilities. Estimated number of students to be vaccinated would be around 110,000 from primary and secondary, kindergarten, special schools and private schools based within the central and Ra subdivision.
We have chosen vaccination in the central division and Ra subdivision based on the prevalence of the current outbreak of Men. C. We need to also use the 124,000 doses so it can free up the cold chain space for the next batch of the 200,000 doses that will be arriving later in the month,” Dr Tamani said.
The Health Ministry has assured on the safety of the Men. C vaccines and is encouraging parents and guardians to have their children vaccinated. Consent forms in 3 languages, including vernacular languages will be made available.
“The vaccine is very safe and because of the seriousness of the Men. C disease itself we are encouraging parents to agree to the vaccination of their child.
“Like all medications, vaccines may have minor reactions. It lasts a short time and does not lead to any long-term problems. Possible side effects of meningococcal vaccine may include soreness, redness and swelling , fever, loss of appetite and headache. These side effects should last only for a short time. More serious side effects are extremely rare,” Dr Tamani elaborated.
Meningococcal disease is an acute bacterial infection that can cause death within hours if not recognised and treated in time.