The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Europe today called on health care professionals, policymakers and parents to take more proactive steps in having children of all ages receive their measles vaccinations.
WHO hopes that this will deter the measles outbreaks that are currently occurring throughout Europe and the U.S., as well as help prevent future outbreaks.
The call to action comes after reports of more than 22,000 measles cases in seven European countries in 2014 and so far this year.
“When we consider that over the past two decades we have seen a reduction of 96 percent in the number of measles cases in the European Region, and that we are just a step away from eliminating the disease, we are taken aback by these numbers,” Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said. “We must collectively respond, without further delay, to close immunization gaps. It is unacceptable that, after the last 50 years’ efforts to make safe and effective vaccines available, measles continues to cost lives, money and time.”
Outbreaks continue to occur because of unvaccinated or under vaccinated pockets of people around the globe, including a growing number of people who refuse to receive vaccinations because of concerns that they pose other health risks.
“The priority is now to control current outbreaks in all affected countries through immunization activities targeting people at risk,” Dr. Nedret Emiroglu, deputy director of the Division of Communicable Diseases, Health Security and Environment at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, said. “At the same time, all countries, with no exception, need to keep a very high coverage of regular measles vaccination, so that similar outbreaks won’t happen again in our region, and measles can be eliminated once and for all.”