Warnings over measles epidemics as vaccinations fall

Dozens of districts below rate for collective immunity.

A measle virus particle.A measle virus particle. (Source: Adobe Stock)

Infectious disease experts have warned of measles outbreaks after nationwide vaccinations rates fell to below levels considered necessary for collective immunity.

Slovakia's Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) has said it has registered five cases of measles since the beginning of the year, and that the national vaccination rate for measles, mumps and rubella among children born in 2020 has fallen below the collective immunity threshold of 95 percent.

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Not a simple disease

Of the three, measles is both the most dangerous and infectious, infectious disease expert Peter Sabaka from Bratislava University Hospital tells the daily Sme. Although rashes all over the body are a characteristic feature, measles can also develop into other diseases.

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"This is not a simple childhood disease. Measles in children can be complicated by bacterial infections, especially middle ear infection and pneumonia. This can be very dangerous and can even lead to death," he said.

The most effective protection against the diseases is vaccination, but ÚVZ warned that fewer parents are getting their kids vaccinated.

Related article The end of the pandemic? Covid-19 self-isolation will end soon Read more 

Where the situation is worst

To maintain a collective immunity against measles, 95 percent or more people need to be vaccinated, but current only the Trnava and Nitra Region reach this threshold, with the Trenčín Region having the lowest vaccination rate at 93.1 percent.

At district level, 35 are below the 95 percent threshold, and six do not reach 90 percent. The Košice III district has the lowest rate at 83.6 percent.

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According to Sabaka, the situation is serious and there is a risk of epidemics in places where vaccination rates are below 95 percent.

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