GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten – Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is closely monitoring the measles situation in Europe, as well as the USA and the Caribbean.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that can cause potentially serious illness. As measles remains endemic in most parts of the world, it can spread to any country, including those that have eliminated the disease.
Every un- or under-immunized person regardless of age is therefore at risk of contracting the disease; this is especially true in those countries where persistently low immunization rates increase the risk of a large outbreak with possible tragic consequences.
Countries should achieve and/or sustain at least 95% coverage with two doses of measles-containing vaccine to prevent circulation in the event of an importation of measles.
Travelers who are not up to date with their vaccinations are at higher risk of contracting measles when in close contact with travelers from countries where the virus is still circulating.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged European countries to target their interventions to those places and groups where immunization gaps persist.
The WHO says measles killed 72 children and adults in the European Region in 2018. 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. In countries reporting hospitalization data, nearly 2/3 (61%) of measles cases were hospitalized. The total number of people infected with the virus in 2018 was the highest this decade: 3 times the total reported in 2017 and 15 times the record low number of people affected in 2016.
CPS advises guardians and parents to check their children’s vaccination status to see whether they are up to date, adding that it is important to keep the Americas Region measles-free.
If persons decide to travel, they should also check their vaccination status and to make use of every opportunity to get vaccinated according to the vaccination schedule. Consult your physician for additional information.
The majority of people who get measles are unvaccinated.
Other individuals who should get their vaccination status checked are, health care workers, pregnant women, pre-and exam class students, as well as groups at risks such as waste/garbage handlers, the Police, hotel and restaurant workers, and others to verify and update their vaccination status, particularly on Hepatitis B and Tetanus.
Immunization averts an estimated two-three million deaths every year, protecting children from diphtheria, measles, pertussis (better known as whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella, tetanus and others.