Measles is a dangerous infectious disease that remains endemic worldwide. Currently it is spreading across Europe, with serious epidemics confirmed in Romania, Italy and Germany. Smaller outbreaks have been identified in France (Lorraine), Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Austria and some areas of Ukraine and almost 300 cases have been confirmed in Belgium this year. The risk is not limited to Europe however. Major outbreaks have also been reported in Thailand, Nigeria, Guinea-Conakry, Somalia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Measles is a common and highly contagious infection, which can potentially be fatal. Vaccination is therefore highly recommended for travellers to regions where outbreaks are confirmed.
According to the Belgian vaccination calendar, children receive a first measles injection at the age of 12 months and a second dose when they are 10 years old. Children younger than 1 year of age travelling to one of the above regions may be vaccinated at six months. Please note that this vaccination does not count for the vaccination calendar and that the child should be revaccinated at the age of 12 months. Kind en Gezin (the Flemish agency that works actively in the 'Public Health, Welfare and Family’ policy area) will usually not carry out early vaccination. If you are travelling with a young child, please contact your GP, your paediatrician or a specialised centre such as the Institute for Tropical Medicine.
Although early vaccination for young children is important, the vaccination status of adults born after 1/1/1970 also merits full attention. People born before 1970 probably had measles because the disease occured alot and it is not possible to get measles a second time. You should consider revaccination if you are not sure whether you have had measles or were fully vaccinated (complete vaccination schedule = 2 vaccines). If you intend to travel to one of the regions above, you must get vaccinated.
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