SUVA — Health teams in Fiji are reaching out to all rural communities during the mass measles vaccination campaign which has so far cost more than 2 million Fijian dollars (around 900,000 US dollars).

There are now 21 confirmed cases of measles in Fiji and Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete said Monday a team from the Ministry of Health will travel to Lomaiviti and Lau Groups this week to carry out vaccination for target groups.

The Lomaiviti archipelago of Fiji consists of seven main islands and has a population of 16,461 people while the Lau Group of islands in the Southern Pacific Ocean has a population of 10,683 people.

Waqainabete said the Fiji Navy will be supporting them in carrying out the campaign as they are working hard to finish all mass vaccination for measles before Christmas to be able to lift all restrictions before New Year’s Eve.

He said over 200,000 people have been vaccinated against measles since the outbreak was declared.

Measles is a highly contagious disease and the Ministry of Health advised that it will not support or condone mass gatherings around Fiji.

The ministry said the vaccination campaign in Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island starts Tuesday.

The national campaign against measles will continue to target people who are most at risk of being infected by measles and spreading the disease.

The Health Ministry said people aged 40 and over will not be vaccinated as they may have had measles as a child and therefore have life-long immunity.

In the meantime the Samoa measles outbreak has not slowed down, prompting the government to extend a state of emergency on Saturday to Dec 29.

Over 5,100 measles cases have been reported since the outbreak and more than 2 percent of Samoa’s population has been infected, with 72 measles-related deaths recorded mainly among children.

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