Romania and Ukraine Remain the Unfortunate Measles Leaders in Europe

Children less than 1-year-old were 6 times more likely to die from measles in the EU
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Europe (Vax Before Travel)

The 2018 measles outbreak in the European region continues its negative trend established in 2017, which quadrupled the number of cases from 2016.

So far in 2018, Romania (1,709) and Ukraine (9,091) continue to report an excessive number of cases and related deaths.

For Romania, this count excludes an estimated 2,200 cases which have not yet been reported, according to the Romanian National Institute of Public Health (INSP).

Separately, in Ukraine, 7 deaths from measles have been reported during 2018. 

But, Ukraine is taking immediate action to improve its substandard immunization rate.

Ukraine is accelerating its vaccination program with a second 2018 order of 800,000 doses of the measles vaccine.

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Dr. Vytenis Andriukaitis said: "This demonstrates that vaccine-preventable infectious diseases do not respect borders and one country's immunization weakness puts the whole Union at risk."

To better understand this negative trend, Dr. Emmanuel Robesyn of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said they analyzed data from 7,365 measles cases from January 2013 through December 2017.

This ECDC’s analysis showed that 1 in 1,000 measles patients died, and of those, the greatest fatality was seen in the youngest cases, such as:

  • Cases in 1 year-olds were 6 times more likely to die compared with cases of patients who were two years old or older, and
  • Cases in infants younger than 1 year were 7 times more likely to die.
  • And, the vast majority (81%) of measles cases in Europe were reported in unvaccinated patients.

This study also noted that 33 percent of the patients were hospitalized and 11 percent had pneumonia.

ECDC Director, Dr. Andrea Ammon said: “It is essential that teenagers and young adults check their vaccination status as we are seeing a recurring pattern in measles outbreaks where they are being affected”.

She continued, “Countries may need to consider catch up campaigns to close vaccination gaps in teenagers and young adults”.

In the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued Level 1 Travel Alerts for both Romania and Ukraine.

These CDC alerts mean Americans traveling to these countries should speak with a healthcare provider regarding their measles immunization status, before departing on a trip.

** Schedule Vaccine Appointments Here **

In the USA, two approved measles vaccines are available, MMR-II and ProQuad.

International travelers can request a vaccine appointment with a pharmacy at this link.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information, and vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.