Measles Outbreak In Europe Worries World Health Organization As All Countries Are At Risk

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald March 30, 04:00 am
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Europe is experiencing an measles outbreak and the World Health Organization warns countries to improve its vaccination efforts.
(Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

There's a measles outbreak in Europe and this worries the World Health Organization (WHO). The agency warns all countries to be on the alert of the risk.

Over 500 cases were reported in January 2017 alone, 200 of which were from Italy. In 2016, Romania logged some 3,400 cases and 17 deaths due to measles. WHO attributed the spread of the disease to the drop in immunization, according to its statement on its official site.

WHO reiterated countries should maintain the 95 percentage threshold for measles immunization. "Outbreaks will continue in Europe, as elsewhere, until every country reaches the level of immunization needed to fully protect their populations," WHO Europe Director Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab said.

Over 2.6 million people died from measles, which is classified as a highly contagious disease, before the development of the vaccine. The measles vaccination has an effective rate at 93 percent for the first dose and 97 percent for the booster shot, as per CDC. Each person receiving immunization for measles need two shots.

The aim to eliminate measles completely seemed achievable a few years ago with the implementation of the European Vaccine Action Plan. Only, immunization dropped after 2015. People thought getting vaccinated for measles was not important.

In some cases, however, the process of vaccination was considered bothersome. For instance, individuals need to make a doctor's appointment first to get a prescription in France. Then, they have to buy the vaccine from the drugstore and then make another doctor's appointment for the injection.

It was difficult to convince people to get their shots this way. "We need to get to the point where we appreciate that people have busy lives and competing priorities," England's Head of Public Health Dr. Mary Ramsay said, as per BBC.

She also said those susceptible to the disease the past few years were teens who loved going to large events, such as music festivals. But experts stressed it's the unvaccinated children who are at risk the most.

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