MEASLES OUTBREAK: Decreasing vaccination rates 'causing spread' worldwide

Measles cases at record high in U.S. since declared eliminated

Between 2010 and 2017, an average of 21.1 million children missed their first dose of the measles vaccine, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), and the situation is definitely a cause for concern as widening pockets of unvaccinated children have created a pathway to the measles outbreaks now spreading around the world.

UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore said, the ground for the global measles outbreaks they are witnessing today was laid years ago adding that the measles virus will always find unvaccinated children.

The first three months of 2019 saw an increase in measles cases by nearly 300%.

Most of the measles cases in this outbreak are in unvaccinated people. Global coverage for the second dose however is much lower, at just 67%.

Most of the recent measles cases in the United Kingdom affected unvaccinated children.

"While not compulsory, it is important everyone takes up the vaccinations they are entitled to, so we are focused on ensuring parents and children know the facts about their benefits and on working with social media companies to stop the spread of misinformation around vaccinations".

Nigeria has the highest number of children under one year of age who did not get a first dose: approximately four million.

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In poorer countries, however, the situation is "critical", UNICEF's report found. Nigeria in 2017, for example, had the highest number of children under one year who missed out on the first dose, at almost 4 million.

In Nigeria, almost four million children under one year missed out on the first dose of the vaccine against measles in 2017 alone.

Worldwide coverage levels of the second dose are even worse.

The UK comes third in a global ranking showing the number of unvaccinated children in high-income countries. While nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Hungary, and Kazakhstan managed to administer the first measles vaccine dose to 99 percent of children in 2017, countries such as Chad, Angola, and Somalia only achieved 37 percent, 42 percent, and 46 percent respectively.

Measles is a virus that spreads in the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. Fore underscored. "It is critical not only to increase coverage but also to sustain vaccination rates at the right doses to create an umbrella of immunity for everyone", she concluded.

Celebrated in the last week of April, World Immunization Week aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.

Meanwhile the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has written to PHE complaining that it ignored the contribution that pharmacists make in vaccination services in its latest campaign to mark European Immunisation Week. In 2016 and 2017, uptake of the first dose of the MMR vaccine in five-year-olds in the United Kingdom exceeded 95 per cent for the first time.

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