Seven measles deaths have occurred in Europe so far this year as the disease continues to circulate in under-vaccinated populations. By country, the highest number of measles cases in the European Union since January 1, 2018, occurred in Greece (1,008), Romania (757), France (429), and Italy (164). The 2018 deaths have all been reported from these 4 countries – Romania (3), Italy (2), Greece (1) and France (1). A total of 2,569 measles cases were reported in Europe in the first two months of 2018. In contrast, the United States has reported 34 cases of measles since the beginning of 2018 and no deaths.
Because measles is a highly infectious, easily transmitted virus, vaccination rates need to be very high to stop transmission and end the circulation of measles virus in an area. The target immunization coverage set by the World Health Organization for the second dose of measles-containing vaccine is 95%, but 20 of 27 European countries have rates below that level. In Romania, 76% of eligible children have received two doses of the vaccine, and in France, the rate is 79%. (Data for Greece and Italy in 2016 are not available.)
In contrast, median two-dose measles-containing vaccine coverage in US kindergartners is 94.6%. In some states, coverage is much lower: only 87.1% of Colorado 5-year-olds have received both required doses of measles-containing vaccine, and in Oregon, 6.3% of kindergartners have an exemption to at least one required vaccination.
Global vaccine action plan. Secretariat annual report. Page 20. World Health Organization.
Measles outbreaks still ongoing in 2018 and fatalities reported from four countries. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Monthly measles and rubella monitoring report. April 2018. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Data, statistics, and graphics. Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals. Measles-containing vaccine 2nd dose. World Health Organization. l