Vaccination calendar will change

The change regarding the MMR vaccine should lower the risk of occurrence and spreading of measles in children’s collectives.

MMR vaccineMMR vaccine (Source: AP/TASR)

The Health Ministry changed the vaccination calendar regarding the MMR vaccine on December 16.

Currently, its first dose is administered to children at 15 months of age, and the second dose at the age of 11 years. Under the new rules, the ministry wants the second dose of the vaccine to be administered to five-year-olds.

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The intention behind the change is linked to the compulsory preschool attendance for five-year-olds, effective from 2020. The ministry wants to make sure that children who are admitted to kindergartens will be vaccinated with two doses of MMR.

“This step will lower the risk of occurrence and spreading of measles in children’s collectives and strengthen the protection of infants’ health,” Health Minister Andrea Kalavská said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

Kalavská recently announced her resignation. One of the reasons for her departure was also the failed vote on the ban for non-vaccinated children to attend kindergartens.

A necessary step

Currently, the second dose of the MMR vaccine is administered to five-year-olds, for example, in Denmark, Greece, Ireland, the UK and Spain.

The change to the vaccination scheme concerning measles, mumps and rubella arises from the recommendation of the working group for immunization based on the immunology research carried out in 2018. Its results suggest that while the share of three-year-old children with a protective level of antibodies is 97.24 percent, in the case of five to nine year-old children it is only 93.46 percent.

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Although the results are satisfactory, chief hygienist Ján Mikas considers the recent Health Ministry’s decision as a necessary step due to the recent measles epidemic in Slovakia, SITA wrote.

How will the vaccination look?

Children who will be older than five next year will receive the second MMR dose at the age of 11. This includes children born between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2015.

This means that until 2025 there will be two groups of children: those vaccinated in the 15th-18th month with the first dose, and those vaccinated at either 5th or 11th year of age.

After 2026, the second dose will be given only to five-year-olds.

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