A number of European countries are currently seeing outbreaks of measles. Before the start of the summer season, RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment has therefore updated its immunisation recommendation for measles.
The biggest outbreaks are currently in Ukraine and Romania. There are also localised outbreaks in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, France, Bulgaria and Lithuania. Smaller outbreaks have been reported in various European countries, including in the Orthodox Jewish community in London.
Measles outside Europe
In the United States, a measles outbreak has recently been reported in the Orthodox Jewish community in New York. This outbreak is related to measles outbreaks among similar communities in Israel and London.
The situation in Venezuela is still considered severe, including high numbers of measles patients and outbreaks extending all the way across the country’s borders with Brazil, Colombia and Guyana.
Updated immunisation recommendations
Based on these latest developments, RIVM has updated its immunisation recommendations for people travelling to these areas:
1. There is a new list of MMR immunisation countries. For people travelling to countries where measles is endemic and to countries currently experiencing major, long-lasting outbreaks, RIVM recommends vaccinating children from the age of 6 months.
2. For people travelling to European countries with localised measles outbreaks who will be staying with local families, it may be worth considering getting the MMR-0 vaccination ahead of schedule. Early immunisation for measles is not required for normal holiday travel or for holidays at campgrounds or in a hotel or resort.
3. People travelling to New York who will be spending time in areas or neighbourhoods that currently have measles outbreaks may want to consider early immunisation. People who will be staying with Orthodox Jewish families are advised to get the MMR vaccination for children from 6 months and up. Travellers are advised to take along their immunisation certificate if they will be staying in neighbourhoods where measles vaccination is mandatory. More details on which regions have imposed mandatory vaccinations are available on the CDC website and the local NYC health authorities website.
Early MMR vaccination for children between 6 and 14 months who are at risk
Children usually receive an MMR vaccination at the age of 14 months. This is the age when vaccination provides the best long-term protection. Children between 6 and 14 months who have a major risk of contracting a measles infection are eligible for early MMR vaccination. These younger children always need to repeat the early MMR vaccination after their first birthday. It is not necessary to give children their second MMR vaccination (scheduled for 9-year-olds) ahead of schedule. The early MMR vaccination can be administered in the context of the National Immunisation Programme.