Critical to catch up on measles vaccinations, says WHO


Vaccinating children who missed their measles shots during the COVID-19 pandemic is critical, a senior World Health Organisation official said on Tuesday, as outbreaks of the infectious disease increase worldwide.

More than 50 countries have experienced "large and disruptive" measles outbreaks in the last year, twice as many as in 2022, said Kate O'Brien, WHO director of immunisation, at a virtual press conference.

Measles is a very contagious viral illness that causes flu-like symptoms and a rash. It can be fatal but is preventable with two doses of vaccine.

COVID-19 massively disrupted routine vaccination efforts worldwide, and around 60 million children missed their doses over that period, O'Brien said.

She said catch-up efforts were "really critical".

"It's now a race between whether the catch-up activities can happen quickly enough or whether the outbreaks will continue to scale," she said.

On Monday, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also urged people to get vaccinated against measles amid rising cases globally.

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