The largest group affected were young children up to the age of four.
“Measles vaccination is free and is in line with Islamic principles,” Songkhla’s public-health chief Utissak Harirattanakul said yesterday, as he tried to encourage Muslim parents to get their children vaccinated against the highly communicable disease.
In a move to downplay locals’ concerns the vaccine may be haram (forbidden in Islam), Utissak said both the Sheikhul Islam Office and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s legal team had approved the measles vaccine.
Common symptoms of the measles virus, which can be fatal in severe cases, are fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, conjunctivitis and tiny white spots with bluish-white centres on a red background, also called Koplik’s spots, in the inner lining of the cheek.
Utissak urged parents to immediately take their child to the doctor if they develop any measles-like symptoms.
“Young kids should avoid known infected areas, and patients should be quarantined,” he said.
In Songkhla, one of the four southern border provinces, measles has hit 203 patients and killed one.
Earlier this week, Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre’s deputy secretary-general Somkiat Phonprayoon told relevant officials to go on a door-to-door campaign in the deep South to vaccinate children against measles. He said efforts must cover schools, as all children below the age of 12 must be vaccinated.
Somkiat said officials must explain to community and religious leaders the necessity for locals to have the right understanding of the vaccine.
Yala’s public-health chief Songkran Maichum said the number of measles infections in his province has already dropped due to serious campaigning.
“We have vaccinated up to 94 per cent of local children so far and hope to bring the number up to 95 per cent soon,” he said.