Six confirmed cases of measles in Barranquilla, the fourth most populous city in Colombia, have led the Colombian government to embark on a mission to vaccinate over eight million people within the next eight months.
Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Beatriz Londoño asked those who have not yet been vaccinated against measles to do so immediately, according to Caracol Radio.
“If in doubt, there is no doubt, vaccinate!” Londoño urged, “If the mothers does not know where the vaccination card is, vaccinate! If the mother is rummaging about for it, vaccinate!”
According to Londoño, the Ministry of Social Protection is working with the Ministry of Education to first vaccinate residents of the Atlantico department, of which Barranquilla is the capital, and the nearby Bolivar and Magdalena departments.
The minister has called on educational institutions in these departments to “actively participate in pro-vaccination campaigns and allow the entry of professionals to vaccinate.”
While efforts are being concentrated in Atlantico and neighboring departments, the government also plans to target Bogota, because the traffic between the major cities of Barranquilla, Cartagena and Bogota is high.
The government’s goal, Londoño said, is to vaccinate eight and a half million Colombians for measles and rubella by May 31, 2012.
Meanwhile, physicians are advised to report any suspected cases of measles right away to the secretary of health.
“Young doctors probably have never seen a case of measles, because there hasn’t been a case in the last nine years,” she said.