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Chinese children get free measles vaccine inoculation
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South China's Guangdong Province began a two-month-long campaign Sunday to inoculate 23 million children with measles vaccines.

Children born between March 1, 1994 and July 1, 2008 are required to get the vaccine at authorized health care centers before April 30, the provincial health department said.

It will be free of charge.

Central coffers funneled 75.87 million yuan (about 11.16 million U.S. dollars) to Guangdong to support the inoculation plan.

Measles is an acute, contagious, respiratory viral disease that usually occurs in childhood. It is characterized by an eruption of itchy red spots on the skin and fever. It can cause death in children.

In Guangdong, a measles outbreak occurs in April and May.

The province reported 15,215 cases of measles among children last year. Seven died from the disease. Measles outbreaks were 16.1 per 100,000 children last year, down by 24.06 percent from 2007.

The Chinese government made a solemn commitment to the World Health Organization in 2005 pledging to get rid of measles by 2012.

The Chinese Health Ministry launched an action plan in 2006 to contain the incidence of the disease to below 0.1 per 100,000 children.

(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2009)

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