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Measles outbreak moving to central Okinawa areas

Date Posted: 2008-09-12

Free measles inoculations are being offered to Ginoza Village and Kin Town residents as officials move to contain an outbreak of measles.

The free vaccinations are being provided by the two northern Okinawa communities to people under the age of 29. Officials say the outbreak, which began last month, is beginning to spread south from northern Okinawa, into the central region. They warn all residents to consider getting the vaccinations immediately.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare says the vaccines have been offered across the nation, free, since April, but not for adults. The latest move to make the vaccinations available to adults in Ginoza Village and Kin Town is a first, coming in the wake of reported measles cases.

Ginoza Village Infectious Disease Information Center officials say seven people have contracted measles, while nearby Kin Town says it has one confirmed case. Ginoza Village is using local radio programs to encourage kindergarten and elementary school students, and also young adults, to go to a clinic and receive vaccinations. Vaccinations are available at Onna Clinic, Northern Okinawa Hospital, and the Kin Town Hospital.

Officials say measles cases have been on the decline over the past ten years, largely because of vaccinations. They say a single vaccination isnít enough, and doesnít last forever, requiring people to obtain another one now.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has begun giving vaccines for rubella and measles in a mixed shot to first year middle school students and also high school third grade students.

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