The Ministry of Health (MOH) needs the support of its stakeholders to complete a mass immunization catch-up campaign in Efate which will begin on Monday next week.

It is a worry that the generation of children born after 2015 have not been vaccinated against measles.

The catch-up campaign will target those children at risk against further outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases as diphtheria and whooping cough.

Communities, churches, schools and parents have been urged to collaborate with the MOH to improve the vaccine coverage.

It was revealed in a report that one of the reasons for delaying immunization is that mothers forgot to take their children to clinics.

Some parents hesitate to vaccinate their children due to religious beliefs, some fear it is too painful for the baby while others think it is not important.

Immunization Officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Vanuatu, Dr Ridwan Gustiana, said teachers should help by educating the community, parents and children on the benefits of immunization.

”Experience have shown that children are likely to be absent from class during the day nurses visit their schools to offer vaccine. Teachers should explain to their children that taking the dose will not harm them.

”Parents must also understand the importance of immunization, which is to protect themselves and other people from infections.

UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have been partnering with the MOH to boost immunization progress.

The Acting Director General (DG) of the MOH and Director of the Department of Public Health, Len Tarivonda, said it is important for all stakeholders to collaborate in such campaigns to help the ministry reach its national immunization target which is 95% coverage.

School principals and teachers, health officers and officers from the Shefa Provincial Government Council (SPGC) have been brought together in an awareness conducted by the Department of Public Health on the campaign.

The participants were advised to support the vaccination team to ensure that all targeted children are immunized and no one is left behind.