The number of measles cases in Singapore has increased this year compared with the same period last year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said. The ministry has urged parents to get their children vaccinated against the infectious disease.
As many as 17 people were reported to have suffered from measles last year. But the ministry said that 50 cases of measles have been reported so far this year.
Out of these 50 cases, 40 are Singaporean patients including 34 children. Half of these children were babies under the age of one who were not due for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination.
Fourteen children were aged between one and six, and had missed their MMR vaccination. Three were one year old who had received only one dose of the MMR vaccination.
In Singapore, measles vaccination for children is compulsory under the Infectious Diseases Act. The ministry has reminded parents to get their children vaccinated immediately as measles is one of the most infectious diseases.
The vaccination is done in two phases; the first dose should be given when the child is 12 months old, and the second dose between the age of 15 and 18 months. Both the doses are important for the vaccination to give lifelong protection against MMR.
"It is important to ensure that young children receive two doses of the MMR vaccination on time," the MOH said.
Apart from children, family members who are not vaccinated against measles are also advised to be vaccinated, especially if there is a baby being cared for at home. The vaccine can have side effects, including fever.
Measles is spread through air droplets and direct contact with nasal and throat secretions and the symptoms of this disease include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and rashes. But the patient can be infectious even before the symptoms are noted.
Children can develop complications such as diarrhoea and vomiting if they are infected by the measles virus. In rare cases, many are needed to be hospitalised.
The MMR vaccination is available at polyclinics, private general practitioner clinics and private paediatric clinics. Singapore citizens will get it fully subsidised at polyclinics. Medisave can also be used at private general practitioner and private paediatric clinics.
However, the School Health Services have facilities for Primary 1 pupils. They provide the MMR vaccine to pupils who did not receive the second dose in their pre-school years.