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13 Mar 2017 - Measles Vaccine - Don't Forget Your Travellers!

Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that is spread through airborne droplets; symptomatic coughing can spread measles virus over a wide area. Other possible symptoms include: fever, malaise, conjunctivitis, erythematous and maculopapular rash. In severe illness, symptoms may include; pneumonia, otitis media, convulsions, encephalitis and can result in death.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) asserts that globally, measles remains a leading cause of childhood deaths and an estimated 16,0000 children die each year from complications of the disease.

Vaccination is the only effective preventive measure against contracting measles virus. Despite being a vaccine preventable disease, measles outbreaks are widely reported throughout the world. Between 1 February 2016 and 31 January 2017, 30 EU/EEA Member States reported 4,484 cases of measles. Croatia and Spain did not report data for January 2017.

The ECDC Surveillance Atlas details the following European measles cases reported between February 2016 to January 2017:

European   Country

Measles   Cases Reported 02/2016 – 01/2017

Romania

1,995

Italy

1,020

United Kingdom

575

Germany

364

Poland

140

Belgium

103

France

93

Austria

55

Ireland

45

Spain

38

Lithuania

22

Czech Republic

7

Netherlands

6

Sweden

5

Croatia

4

Denmark

3

Finland

3

Slovenia

3

Bulgaria

1

Estonia

1

Iceland

1

Advice for Healthcare Professionals

Travel may increase an individual’s risk of exposure to measles virus, and facilitate the spread of disease to unvaccinated and susceptible populations. The travel consultation provides healthcare practitioners with a valuable opportunity to ensure individuals are protected against the measles virus. Consider vaccinating:

  • All travellers who have not previously had two doses of a measles containing vaccine or prior measles infection.
  • Particularly children and those who will be living or working closely with the local population at their destination, in countries with high endemnicity or recent outbreaks.
  • To help decide whether your traveller may be at risk of measles based on year of birth and vaccination history please read the table for measles recommendations 

Charging for Measles Containing Vaccine:

  • In Scotland, GP practices may charge for the administration of MMR vaccine if the traveller does not fall into one of the groups that can receive free vaccine and it is solely being given for the purposes of travel, but have discretion not to charge.
  • In England, GPs will be reimbursed for administering one or two doses of MMR vaccine as required to all unvaccinated patients aged 16 and over who present to the GP surgery requesting vaccination.
  • Further explanantion on charging arrangements can be found here Vaccine Charges FAQ

Advice for Travellers

It should be confirmed that children have received their recommended doses of MMR at 12-13 months of age and again pre-school around 3 years 4 months. Consider vaccinating all unimmunised adults who have not had the disease themselves, particularly if they are going to be at higher risk. Two doses of MMR vaccine, at least one month apart, are required to give adequate protection.

Sources

  • European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
  • Health Protection Scotland
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