Marshall Islands ramps up measles entry requirements

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MAJURO — In the wake of confirmed measles cases in Kiribati and Hawaii, as well as ongoing spread in many islands in the South Pacific, the Marshall Islands has tightened its measles prevention requirements for people entering and leaving the country.

At least one passenger coming to Majuro from the South Pacific was denied entry this past weekend because she did not have written proof of measles vaccine as required by the new travel advisory for the country.

The updated travel advisory requires that all Marshallese citizens and foreign residents from six months to 62 years of age traveling internationally must have written proof that they have an up-to-date measles vaccine or an exemption in writing from a doctor. Incoming passengers in this same age group, both Marshallese and foreign residents, must likewise show proof of measles vaccine to United Airlines and Nauru Airlines to board flights to Majuro or Kwajalein.

Marshallese and non-residents traveling on one-way tickets out of Marshall Islands do not need to show proof of measles vaccine.

Although to date there have been no measles cases in Marshall Islands, the Ministry of Health is taking the threat seriously.

In Samoa, the measles death toll is over 80 and more than 5,000 have fallen ill to the highly contagious disease. The latest Pacific Community health bulletin for the region shows Kiribati confirmed its first case last week, and Fiji, Tonga, American Samoa, New Zealand and Australia are all reporting measles. In the United States, 31 states have reported 1,276 measles cases in 2019 — the most in the U.S. since 1992. Hawaii is one of the states reporting measles.