A number of European countries are currently seeing outbreaks of measles, in particular Ukraine and Romania. There have also been reports of measles outbreaks in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, France, Bulgaria and Lithuania. All travellers to these countries are advised to be vaccinated against measles if they have not previously been vaccinated or have had measles. If you are planning a trip to one of these countries with children, the advice is to get an early vaccination against measles (MMR vaccination) from the age of 6 months old.
The measles epidemic in Eastern and Southern Europe continues to persist. There have also been reports of measles outbreaks in England, in particular within the Orthodox Jewish community. The outbreaks in Italy seem to have subsided a bit in recent months. As the measles epidemics mostly occur within local population groups, there is a minimal risk of infection during a holiday in those countries. Only in situations involving close contact with local population groups, such as e.g. staying in people’s homes, early vaccination for children from 6 months old is adviced.
Going on holiday?
If you are travelling to one of the aforementioned countries or will be in situations involving close contact with local population groups, such as e.g. staying in people’s homes, the advice is early vaccination for children from the age of 6 months. Contact your local Well-Baby Clinic, the Youth and Family Centre, or the Municipal Public Health Service in your region to make arrangements. If you discover that there is an unexpected outbreak of measles at your holiday location, please contact a local physician as soon as possible. An MMR vaccination within 72 hours can still provide protection to unvaccinated children from the age of 6 months and older.
The early MMR vaccination
Children usually receive an MMR vaccination at the age of 14 months. Children between 6 and 14 months who have a major risk of contracting a measles infection are eligible for early MMR vaccination. That could be necessary if a child younger than 14 months old is going to travel to a country where measles infections are common.
Children younger than 1-year-old may still have the mother’s antibodies, which could cause the vaccination to work less well than it should, or not work at all. For that reason, these younger children always need to repeat the early MMR vaccination after their first birthday.