Measles vaccination gaps in teenagers and young adults

08 May 2018

Article: 52/1804

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) data shows that up to 80% of teenagers and young adults who contracted measles in 2017 had not been vaccinated.

ECDC analysis of sub-national data indicates that even countries with high overall levels of vaccine coverage may have groups that are unvaccinated. In recent and ongoing measles outbreaks, ECDC’s recent rapid risk assessment identifies healthcare workers as among those affected.

All countries in the EU/EEA have routine measles vaccination programmes in place targeting children and the ECDC suggests these programmes should be fully implemented. Due to an increasing number of cases among teenagers and young adults, catch-up programmes for individuals who have missed vaccination or for those who were too old to have been targeted by routine programmes exist in a number of countries and could be considered in other countries.

Not only can measles cause severe complications in adults, it is infants who are the most affected, as they cannot be vaccinated and have a six-fold risk of death according to analysis of ECDC data from 2013-2017. Infants can only be protected through so-called ‘herd immunity’, which is when 95% of the population in a country are vaccinated with two doses of measles vaccine.

ECDC has recently published data and analysis on the serious and escalating  situation in many EU countries. Between 1 January and 31 December 2017, 14,600 cases of measles were reported by EU/EEA countries which was more than triple the number reported in 2016. Within the broader European region, the number of measles cases quadrupled from 2016 to 2017.

Source: ECDC, 23 April 2018