Germany’s measles outbreak wake-up call for parents to have children vaccinated – UN

2 February 2009

A measles outbreak in Germany has highlighted the need for vaccination reminders and better information for parents, after a study showed that at least 80 per cent of 614 cases in Duisburg in 2006 involved people who had not been vaccinated, according to research published today in the Bulletin of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO).

A measles outbreak in Germany has highlighted the need for vaccination reminders and better information for parents, after a study showed that at least 80 per cent of 614 cases in Duisburg in 2006 involved people who had not been vaccinated, according to research published today in the Bulletin of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO).

“Measles still causes an estimated 197,000 deaths each year around the world, the majority of them children under five,” Peter Strebel of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals said. “Parents and doctors need to be reminded that measles is a highly contagious disease.

“Even healthy and well-nourished children, if unvaccinated, are at risk of measles and its complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis and, although rare, death,” he added, noting that two children died of encephalitis and 95 were hospitalized in the German outbreak.

The failure to vaccinate was ascribed to parents either forgetting or rejecting the vaccine for various reasons including the mistaken belief that it was dangerous.

Even in countries with good health services, measles can be very serious, particularly in young children, Dr. Strebel stressed.

 

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