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Fiji's Measles Outbreak Spreads in the Pacific Islands

July 10, 2022 • 9:07 am CDT
WHO Alert
(Vax Before Travel)

The ongoing measles outbreak in Fiji has recently spread to other South Pacific islands. As a result, on July 4, 2022, The Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services issued a measles health alert but did not confirm any cases. However, this alert should be taken seriously as international visitors are returning to the Pacific Islands.

Unfortunately, the Solomon Islands measles vaccination coverage is currently about 40%, far below the WHO's suggested minimum level.

Previously, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, with the support of the WHO and others, conducted a "supplementation" measles vaccination campaign to reach 90,000 children in the Solomon Islands in October 2019.

There is no specific treatment for measles, but it can be prevented with safe U.S. FDA-approved vaccines.

'Parents and guardians are therefore strongly urged to review their children's vaccination status ... and get their measles and rubella vaccination if needed.'

'Measles is a highly contagious, serious, airborne disease caused by a virus spread through the air and direct contact. The virus infects the respiratory tract and spreads throughout the body.'

And the Samoan Ministry of Health declared a measles outbreak in October 2019, the first Pacific island country to do so in the current global resurgence of measles.

As of Jan 22, 2020, 5,707 measles cases and 83 measles-related deaths had been reported, with numerous children impacted, reported The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Recently, Fiji's Ministry of Health and Medical Services initiated an immediate containment response after six measles cases were identified on July 2, 2022.

Local media reported there were two measles cases in Labasa, three in Rewa, and one in Nasinu.

The Fiji Ministry immediately launched a supplementary immunization campaign for measles under-vaccinated individuals in response to this outbreak.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services provides measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines free to children from one year old.

This new outbreak indicates Fiji's lingering measles challenge may have become 'endemic.'

In November 2019, a measles outbreak was declared, with about 30 cases centered in the Serua / Namosi provinces.

In January 2020, that measles outbreak was declared over, with around 328,000 people in Fiji immunized against measles.

As of July 10, 2022, the U.S. CDC had not issued a Travel Advisory regarding the measles outbreaks in Fiji, Samoa, or the Solomon Islands.

However, the CDC says, 'Infants 6 to 11 months old traveling internationally should get one dose of MMR vaccine before travel, which should not be part of the routine childhood vaccination series.'

And the CDC suggests confirming your immunization status with a certified travel vaccine provider at least one month before international travel.

In the USA, several measles vaccine options are offered by most pharmacies.

Note: This information was manually curated for international travelers.