Vaccine demand surges amid measles outbreak

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According to monthly country reports for January to December 2018 (received as of 01 February 2019), 82 596 people in 47 of 53 countries contracted measles.

According to the World Health Organization, before the introduction of measles vaccination in 1963, the virus caused 2.6 million deaths every year.

Measles is extremely contagious, and can be unsafe, especially for young children. The current measles outbreak in Clark County and one diagnosed case in King County are examples of why the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine is a crucial requirement.

In 34 of these countries, estimated coverage with a second dose of measles vaccine was below 95 perc ent. It was publicized earlier that the disease was eradicated in the U.S.in 2000 but has ever since made a return that is attached to imported cases and the growth of the anti-vaccine movement.

Ukraine recorded the highest number of measles cases in Europe in 2018, at 53,218.

It is also 15 times a record low recorded in 2016.

Clark County Public Health Department Public Information Officer Marissa Armstrong said that the first case in the Clark County outbreak was a child who had traveled to Clark County from outside the country - information that was announced in the initial outbreak news release January 4.

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Ninety-two percent of the cases were reported by 10 countries: Ukraine (53,218), Serbia (5,076), Israel (2,919), France (2,913), Italy (2,517), Russian Federation (2,256), Georgia (2,203), Greece (2,193), Albania (1,466) and Romania (1,987). While data indicate exceptionally high immunization coverage at regional level, they also reflect a record number affected and killed by the disease.

"[Immunisation] gaps at local level still offer an open door to the virus", the WHO's European director, Zsuzsanna Jakab, said in a statement. Others object to the timing and combinations of vaccines and from compulsory vaccination of their children.

"We can not achieve healthier populations globally, as promised in WHO's vision for the coming five years, if we do not work locally. We must do more and do it better to protect each and every person from diseases that can be easily avoided", Jakab said.

While more children in Europe are being vaccinated against measles than ever before, progress has been "uneven" between countries and individual countries have some patches where vaccine take-up is low, it said. In Quebec, it's 85 per cent and in B.C., it's 73 per cent. Experts say vaccination rates need to be 90 to 95 per cent in order to achieve herd immunity, which stops the spread of infectious disease.

There was also a five-fold rise in measles cases in the United Kingdom in 2018.

Public health officials have attributed the outbreak to vaccine coverage of less than 50 percent of the population when the outbreak began.

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