The World Health Organization has reported that cases of measles have hit a record high in Europe.
There have been 37 deaths and over 41,000 infections in the first six months of this year alone — more than any other 12-month period in the past decade.
Dr Mark Muscat from the WHO’s Vaccine, Preventable Diseases and Immunisation Programme told Euronews’ Good Morning Europe the reason was that a large number of children had not been vaccinated.
“Over the years, if a country does not reach 95 per cent coverage with two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine in every community, there is an accumulation of vulnerable children. And therefore, when the virus is introduced into that community it spreads like wildfire and causes outbreaks like the ones we’re seeing right now this year.”
He said the solution was for parents to vaccinate children — and also for adults to check their own immunity in countries which have lacked vaccination programmes in the past.
Governments have a role to play in making sure that vaccine delivery services encourage parents to take action, Dr Muscat added. “Vaccines are a very powerful and useful public health tool that should be used.”