The National Health Security Office (NHSO) board has approved 100,000 additional doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine to help eradicate measles in Thailand in this fiscal year.

The vaccine would be handed over to the Department of Disease Control (DDC) in August and will target Thai children aged under seven and adults living in large groups – such as prisons, military camps and factories, said Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn.

Piyasakol affirmed that the allocation would not affect nor compromise the country’s normal immune system promotion plan.

Piyasakol said there has been an increase in measles outbreaks worldwide and in Thailand. In 2017, a total of 1,449 measles cases were reported in Thailand – which doubled the figure reported in 2016 – while there were 2,925 patients and three deaths in 2018, he said.

In the southern border provinces, measles outbreaks were prominent among children aged under five who were not fully vaccinated, he said, while there was also a tendency for measles outbreak escalation among people aged 20 to 40 who live in large groups.

To prevent measles from spreading and to achieve the goal of eradicating measles by 2020, Thailand has aimed to reduce the prevalence rate of measles to be less than one case per 1 million population and to have totally eliminate domestic measles infection by 2020.

Since the increase of MMR vaccination comprehensive coverage for at-risk people was among the measures to achieve the goal, the DDC had asked for Bt93.41 million budget to procure the MMR vaccine – for which the Bureau of Budget approved Bt54.15 million, the minister said.

The bureau asked the NHSO to have Rajavithi Hospital’s service unit networks provide an additional 100,000 dosages of MMR vaccine (worth Bt22.25 million) to the DDC, resulting in the NHSO board discussion and approval of the plan this week, he said.