COPENHAGEN: The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Europe on Friday urged countries in the region to immediately develop targeted measles vaccination catch-up strategies.
Since early 2022, cases of measles, a disease caused by a highly contagious respiratory virus, have been steadily increasing in the WHO European Region, following a period of very low detection in 2021. A minimum of 95 percent routine coverage with two doses of a measles-containing vaccine will be sufficient to stop the spread of the virus and prevent major outbreaks from occurring again, according to WHO Europe.
However, the WHO noted that the COVID-19 pandemic’s persistent immunity gaps and missed vaccine doses have left many people vulnerable to the potentially fatal disease of measles, including an increased number of children.
WHO Europe also urged countries to build up their measles surveillance to detect and investigate suspected cases without delay. Following large measles outbreaks in 2018 and 2019, with nearly 200,000 reported cases, the region’s reported measles cases fell to just over 12,000 in 2020. Only 159 measles cases were reported in 22 countries in 2021. However, this increased in 2022, with 904 cases reported in 27 countries to date, according to WHO statistics. Xinhua