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The triple MMR vaccine immunises against measles, mumps and rubella
The triple MMR vaccine immunises against measles, mumps and rubella / SUR

Spain introduces a preventative campaign to stop the rise in the number of cases of measles

  • Anyone between 40 and 50 years of age who hasn't been vaccinated already and hasn't had the disease can ask to be vaccinated in the initiative

The regional government has introduced an initiative to vaccinate everyone against measles who requests it and was born in the seventies, (who are now between 40 and 50 years old), thereby following the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and the national government.

The aim is to prevent outbreaks of measles, an infectious and contagious disease that at the moment is under control in Spain, (it has been free of endemic transmission of measles since 2016), but which has resurfaced in other European countries.

Anyone aged between 40 and 50 who has already had measles or has been in contact with someone with measles at some point in their life does not need to be vaccinated as they will already be immune. If anyone in the age group has doubts as to whether or not they were vaccinated against the disease in their childhood, it is recommended that they be vaccinated at their health centre.

The Junta regional government has made it clear that there has been no rise in measles cases in Andalucía and that currently the situation is "absolutely normal".

People who were born in the seventies who were not vaccinated or who have not suffered this condition can go to their health centre and request to be vaccinated. They will be injected with the triple MMR vaccine which immunises against measles, mumps and rubella. Two doses of this vaccine will be given at least four weeks apart.

The Health department is not contacting people individually to be vaccinated, "We are not going to create a health scare where there is none," said sources.

They also pointed out that "in Spain there has been no significant increase in cases of measles and in Andalucía there is no upturn in the disease but, following the recommendations of the ministry of Health, people who request it will be vaccinated as a preventive measure".

Preventative measure

Epidemiology experts consider that all Spanish people over 50 are already immunised because they were in contact with the virus when they were children, while those born after 1980 will have been vaccinated. This vaccination initiative focuses on Spanish people born in the seventies, as not all of them came in to contact with the disease or were vaccinated. This means that there are isolated, non-immunised population groups that could become infected if they came into contact with a case of measles.

In the period between 1 January and 21 July this year, 233 confirmed measles cases were registered in Spain, which was seven more than in the whole of the previous year. All cases were imported or secondary, according to data from the Ministry of Health. Spain has been a country free of the endemic transmission of measles since 2016 and rubella (German measles) since 2015.

However there has been an increase of this contagious disease in countries such as the UK, Greece, the Czech Republic and Albania. In a report published on 12 August, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the increase in measles in Europe, which began in 2018, has continued in 2019 with approximately 90,000 cases reported during the first half of the year. This is already higher than the figure for 2018 as a whole (84,462 cases).