‘Vaccine Hesitancy’ Spreads in Europe

MMR vaccination recommended prior to traveling to EU

The goal of eliminating measles in Europe was dealt a blow last week after new data showed how outbreaks continue to sweep the continent.

This accelerating “vaccine hesitancy" is leading to negative results.

Nearly 19,000 cases of measles were reported in the European Union between January 2016 and October 2017, including 44 deaths, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported.

Eighty-seven percent (87%) of the reported measles cases were not vaccinated.

In 2016, 25.5% of measles cases were above 20 years of age; in 2017, this percentage increased to 47%.

Speaking to The BMJ, the centre’s director, Andrea Ammon, said ‘that governments and doctors needed to engage head on with parents over safety concerns.’

“Patient safety is the most important determinant in deciding whether to vaccinate or not,” said Dr. Ammon.

The three countries mostly affected by measles over 2016 and the first half of 2017:

  • Romania saw a sharp increase in cases from October 2016, and this trend continues in 2017;
  • Italy started increasing in January 2017,
  • Germany began reporting increased measles cases in February 2017.

The latest available data on vaccination coverage collected by the ECDC show that the vaccination coverage for the first dose of measles was below 95% in 18 of 30 EU/EEA countries; for the second dose of measles, it was below 95% in 20 of 27 EU/EEA countries reporting second dose coverage data.

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Separately, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning for international travellers recommending they are protected against measles.

According to research, more than 53 percent of US travelers who are eligible for the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, are not getting vaccinated before leaving the country.

The CDC recommends that anyone who isn’t protected against measles, either through vaccination or past infection, should get vaccinated before international travel.

In the USA, Merck is the manufacturer of two mumps vaccinations. MMR and ProQuad both contain the protection for mumps, as well as protection for measles and rubella.

The ProQuad vaccine is indicated for active immunization for the prevention of measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella in children 12 months through 12 years of age.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information.

Most pharmacies offer the MMR vaccine, and vaccine discounts can be found at this webpage.