The Ministry of Public Health will conduct a National Immunization Campaign against measles, mumps and rubella ( MMR) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Primary Health Care Corporation, Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar Petroleum, and Sidra Medical and Research Center.
The immunization campaign will take place from 17 October to 14 November and will target all children aged between one and thirteen years; according to the national statistics, there are about 294,000 children in this targeted age group.
Vaccination for school age children is scheduled to be implemented at independent, private and community schools; children under school age will be vaccinated at primary health care centers and at some private health centers.
This campaign is part of the Ministry of Public Health’s policy to improve and protect the health of Qatar’s children from infectious diseases as stated in the objectives of the National Health Strategy; it is also in line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) international commitment to eliminate measles globally, in view of the fact that measles is a highly contagious viral disease which can cause serious health complications and disability.
Specialists from the Department of Public Health at the Ministry of Public Health are working hard to launch the campaign’s activities in collaboration with officials of the Primary Health Care Corporation, Hamad Medical Corporation and the Ministry of Education, with valued assistance from WHO experts and experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta .
The MMR vaccine that will be given to children during the campaign is one of the routine vaccines given as part of the National Immunization Program in Qatar for more than two decades. It has the highest levels of safety and effectiveness, and is accredited and approved by the WHO and the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).
There is international consensus concerning the elimination of measles as children worldwide remain at risk of the disease and its potential complications, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. The WHO has requested that all countries take strong measures to improve population immunity and stop measles from spreading. The current global health initiative to eliminate measles is a major component of the Global Vaccine Action Plan. According to this plan the target date for elimination of measles from the Eastern Mediterranean region is 2020.
Qatar is very close to achieving this goal; the rate for the second dose of MMR vaccination is more than 90%, and this national supplementary immunization campaign enhances our progress towards the goal of measles elimination. It is worth mentioning here that in Qatar the incidences of measles cases have dropped rapidly over the last few years, from 160 confirmed cases in 2012 to 18 cases in 2015. Regarding mumps and rubella, during the last year 21 cases of mumps and 7 cases of rubella have been detected, and this indicates we are very close to eliminating these two diseases in the near future.