01:42am Tuesday 02 June 2020

Stop and eliminate measles and rubella in Europe

European Immunization Week logoVarious campaigns are being carried out across Europe this week.

Measles outbreaks in several European countries

Despite a measles vaccine (MMR vaccine) being available in most of Europe, there are regular new outbreaks. In the last three years, there have been over 90,000 cases of measles in Europe. Over 50 % of those affected are adolescents and young adults. In addition, over 20,000 cases of rubella (German measles) were reported in 2012 alone.

WHO Europe has a goal of eliminating measles and rubella from Europe by 2015. This goal requires a joint effort so WHO has asked countries in the European region to help to achieve it. The most important measure is to achieve and maintain vaccination coverage of 95% for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR vaccine).

In Norway there is good support for the Childhood Immunisation Programme. Even though there are few cases of measles in Norway, unvaccinated people are vulnerable to infection and disease, partly as a result of international travel. The goal of the vaccination efforts in Norway is to maintain support for the Childhood Immunisation Programme. In addition, non-immune adults (unvaccinated or who have not had measles) will be offered the MMR vaccine.

Until now, the MMR vaccine has been offered free of charge to children and adolescents through the Childhood Immunisation Programme, and to women of child-bearing age who lack protection against rubella. From week 17 in 2013, the vaccine is being offered free of charge to those who are not vaccinated; the MMR vaccine will be sent free to all requisitioners. Any charge for the actual vaccination is decided by the vaccination site.

Personal stories

Measles is the most serious and most contagious childhood disease. There is a great risk for complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, otitis media, and brain inflammation (encephalitis), in the most severe cases, permanent brain damage or death can occur. Encephalitis occurs in one in 1000-5000 cases and leads to lasting complications among 20-40%. The risk of complications is higher for teenagers and adults than for children over one year-old.

In connection with the European Vaccination Week 2012, Euronews produced a 9 minute long documentary to show how serious measles can be, in collaboration with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). In the video families share their personal stories after their children contracted measles.


Norwegian Institute of Public Health
PO Box 4404 Nydalen
N-0403 Oslo
Phone: +47 21077000
Fax: +47 22353605

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