EXPERTS are warning that children will die if they don’t have MMR jab – as four EU countries including the UK are stripped of measles-free status.
Britain lost its elimination status just 10 days ago while Albania, Czech Republic and Greece also lapsed in the last year.
Meanwhile, every region in the world is experiencing an increase in the number of cases of the vaccine-preventable disease that can kill or disable children, the World Health Organisation warned today.
Nearly three times as many cases were reported globally from January to July this year than in the same period in 2018, the WHO said.
Europe has seen a surge in cases since 2018, with around 90,000 cases reported for the first half of this year – already more than that recorded in the whole of 2018 – 84,462.
As of the end of 2018, 35 countries had achieved or sustained measles elimination, the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) said.
The UK was added to the list in 2017 by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The independent panel of experts, established by WHO, met in June in Warsaw, Poland, to evaluate reports from 53 countries.
It comes as WHO said misinformation about vaccines, particularly that shared on social media, is as contagious and dangerous as the diseases it helps to spread.
Dr Gunter Pfaff, chair of the RVC, said: “Re-establishment of measles transmission is concerning.
“If high immunisation coverage is not achieved and sustained in every community, both children and adults will suffer unnecessarily and some will tragically die.”
Professor Martin Marshall, vice-chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said the findings were “disheartening”.
If high immunisation coverage is not achieved in every community, both children and adults will die
Dr Gunter Pfaff
“While take-up of the MMR vaccination across the UK are still high, it is not high enough, and we have actually seen a small decline in recent years,” he said.
“It is clear that we are still suffering from entirely debunked claims around MMR that were perpetuated in the nineties – and are now resurgent on social media and other online platforms.
What is measles?
MEASLES is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to very serious complications.
It can cause things like pneumonia and encephalitis – both of which can kill or leave people seriously disabled for the rest of their lives.
Now, experts are calling for measles vaccinations to be made mandatory in certain countries.
It’s given in two doses as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.
The first jab is given to kids at around 13 months old, while a second dose is administered at around three years, four months.
There is no link at all between having the MMR vaccine and autism – even in children who have other risk factors for the condition, scientists confirmed back in March.
That’s the conclusion of a nationwide study of all children born in Denmark to Danish-born mums between 1999 and 2010.
Last week, we revealed that anti-vaxxer parents were holding “measles parties” to give their kids the deadly virus.
“Work is continuing across the NHS to ensure messages about the safety, and life-saving nature of vaccinations are heard, and it is encouraging that WHO has increased its focus on measles elimination and upgraded action to address the challenges which have allowed this deadly virus to persist in countries including the UK.
“This, alongside a commitment by our Government to tackle a wave of dangerous anti-vax messages being shared online – particularly via social media – will hopefully go a long way in helping the country get back on track and regain our measles-free status.”
It comes as WHO welcomed a decision by social media company Pinterest to only provide evidence-based information from leading health experts to its users in a bid to tackle health misinformation.
The company will give users resources from WHO, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the WHO-established Vaccine Safety Net (VSN) when they search for a related term.
WHO said in a statement: “Social media platforms are the way many people get their information and they will likely be major sources of information for the next generations of parents.
“We see this as a critical issue and one that needs our collective effort to protect people’s health and lives.”
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