With cases of measles continuing to increase in several European countries as more parents opt not to follow official advice from medical professionals and health authorities to get their children vaccinated against the disease, and following concerns expressed in April by the Spanish Paediatric Society about the risks to children in Spain, especially when travelling within the EU, Spain’s Public Health Commission of the national health system’s Interterritorial Council has issued the following statement:
In response to recent statements by the Spanish Paediatric Society and the confusion generated about the recommendations for measles vaccinations for children under 12 travelling within Europe, the Health Departments of Spain’s Autonomous Communities and the national Health Department together with the Public Health Commission state:
– In Spain, official advice about the triple vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) is that it should be systematically given to all children at 12 months, and 3-4 years of age.
-The recommendations for those travelling internationally to be vaccinated are detailed on the national Health Department’s website. In any case, the full schedule of vaccinations should be adhered to.
-The current state of measles epidemics in Spain and Europe do not warrant changing existing vaccination recommendations. No European country has altered its vaccination guidelines with regard to measles.
Scientific societies are reminded that vaccination recommendations to the general public and concerning international travel are the responsibility of the Health Authorities.
The statement was issued after the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control noted increases in measles outbreaks across Europe, with the highest number so far in 2018 in Romania (2,712), France (2,173), Greece (1,948) and Italy (805). Of these, 22 deaths have been recorded so far in 2018, and there is also currently an ongoing outbreak in the UK with 440 confirmed measles cases reported. The ECDC says that “most of the cases have been in individuals over 15 years, highlighting the need for young adults who may have missed vaccination to check their vaccination status and get vaccinated”.
Official advice throughout Europe remains that 95% of the population needs to be vaccinated with two doses of measles-containing vaccine if the disease is to be eliminated and those most vulnerable are to be protected from severe complications, which can be fatal especially in small children and infants. Spain was at 95% vaccination coverage for 2015 and 2016 but slipped to 93% last year, and the Spanish health authorities urge parents not to take risks, and to get their children vaccinated against this potentially lethal disease which vaccination has almost eradicated where coverage is extremely high.