In The Netherlands a measles epidemic occurred from May 2013 until March 2014 in municipalities with low vaccine coverage (below 90 percent) against measles. Many of the people living in these areas belong to the Dutch Orthodox Reformed Church. For religious reasons they do not have their children vaccinated.

Measles outbreak

Over 2600 patients with measles have been reported. Because not everyone who had measles went to the doctor, the actual number of patients, however, was much higher. During the epidemic, 182 children were hospitalised and one child deceased from complications of measles. Children aged 6 months with an increased risk of being infected with measles were provided complementary vaccination against measles. This applied only to children who lived in communities with low vaccine coverage.  An animation of the progress of the epidemic until February 12, 2014 can be found at the National Public Health Atlas (Dutch only).

map measles epidemic 2013-2014 The Netherlands

Effect of vaccination

In the Netherlands, there has been a large decrease  in the number of patients with measles and the number of deaths since measles vaccination was introduced into the Dutch National Vaccination Program in 1976. The vaccination is at least 95% effective. Measles epidemics occur periodically among the population groups who are not vaccinated. The last outbreak in the Netherlands was between 1999 and 2000 when there were  150 children with measles admitted to a hospital and three children died from the effects of the disease.

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