Measles cases continue to increase in a number of EU/EEA countries according to the most recent measles data collected by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) through epidemic intelligence and published in the Communicable Diseases Threats Report (CDTR) today (22 May).
The highest number of cases to date in 2018 were in Romania (2,712), France (2,173), Greece (1,948) and Italy (805) respectively.
22 deaths have also been reported by these countries in 2018.
Additionally, there is an ongoing outbreak in England, UK with 440 confirmed measles cases reported this year.
Most of the cases have been in individuals over 15 years old, highlighting the need for young adults who may have missed vaccination to check their vaccination status and get vaccinated.
Measles outbreaks continue to occur in a number of EU/EEA countries, with a risk of spread and sustained transmission in areas with vulnerable populations, the agency warned.
With updates provided for 17 EU/EFTA countries, outbreaks of measles are ongoing in the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Romania, Spain and the UK, it specified.
The ECDC also published its ECDC’s monthly measles and rubella monitoring report which gives more information on age and distribution of cases as well as vaccination coverage rates.
In order to eliminate the disease and protect those most vulnerable to severe complications and death from measles such as infants, 95% of the population need to be vaccinated with two doses of measles-containing vaccine, the agency recommended.
But only five EU/EEA countries reported at least 95% vaccination coverage for both doses of measles-containing vaccine according to the most recent data collected (WHO 2016), showing that further sustained action is needed, it added.
Commenting on vaccine hesitancy, French Socialist MEP Gilles Pargneaux told EURACTIV.com that it has become a worrying phenomenon.
“Untrustworthy online sources are bombarding our citizens with unreliable, misleading and unscientific information, triggering delays or complete refusal in taking necessary vaccines,” he said.
Public health authorities at EU and national level have started working to “occupy more of the space on social media”, as it is currently almost entirely taken up by people who are against vaccination, Dr Andrea Ammon told EURACTIV.com in an interview.
“If nothing is done, it will get worse. For us, the goal is not only to prevent it from getting worse but also to eliminate the disease. And this is the reason we are also working with the countries on this”, she said.