Over 55,000 people contracted measles since the beginning of 2019

03 July 2019
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UNICEF/Fillipov

A total of 55,300 people, including 29,316 children, contracted measles since the beginning of this year, according to the Public Health Centre of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. 18 people, including 8 children, died due to the disease. 

The Ministry of Health together with partners like UNICEF, WHO, CDC, USAID and regional authorities continue the efforts to stop the outbreak in the country. While there is no specific treatment for measles, it can be prevented by vaccination. Two doses of vaccine protect from measles, its complications and death. Free, safe and efficient MMR vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella are available in all state primary healthcare facilities for children, and adults who didn’t receive measles vaccination or didn’t have measles previously. To stop the spread of the infection, over 95% of people need to be vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health and UNICEF call on all parents to vaccinate their children against measles - first dose of vaccines administered at the age of 12 months and second dose of vaccine at the age of 6 years, or catch-up on vaccination as soon as possible if any dose of MMR vaccine was missed. Babies at risk of contracting measles in case of a contact with a sick person can be vaccinated as early as at the age of 6 months. The age limit that existed for immunization of adults was lifted and now all adults who were not vaccinated against measles or have no history of measles infection, can be vaccinated with state procured vaccine for free.

"There are still many children in Ukraine who missed their timely vaccination according to the immunization schedule, whose vaccination starts after they are 1 year old. It is very important that the first vaccine they receive is a vaccine against measles. During an outbreak, when the risk of getting infected is very high, these children need to get protection from measles in the first place," said Kateryna Bulavinova, a UNICEF Health Expert.

MMR vaccines are available in all regions of Ukraine. Two high quality MMR vaccines, procured by UNICEF at the request of the Ministry of Health for the state budget are currently used in Ukraine: Priorix (GlaxoSmithKlineBiologicalsS.A., Belgium), and "M-M-RII (Merck & Co., Inc., USA). Vaccines are available in state primary healthcare facilities. 

Last week 601 people, including 314 children got measles. In total, since the beginning of the outbreak in 2017, over 110,000 people got infected, 39 died due to measles in Ukraine.

Measles is a highly contagious infection transmitted from person to person by airborne droplets produced when a sick person sneezes, coughs or speaks. The measles virus can live in the air and on surfaces up to two hours after a sick person left a room. Nine out of ten people who come in contact with a person who has measles will contract the disease, unless they have received two doses of the vaccine.

Measles can lead to serious consequences - pneumonia, encephalitis, ear infections and blindness. Measles can also lead to death.

Any child or adult who does not receive two doses of the measles vaccine or has no history of measles infection are at risk of contracting the disease.

UNICEF assists the Ministry оf Нealth of Ukraine in situation monitoring, data collection and analysis in relation to the measles outbreak, provides technical and communication support on a daily basis. This includes capacity building for medical workers and reaching parents with credible, consistent and easily understandable information to counteract misconceptions and promote the benefits of immunization.

UNICEF also provides support to the Government of Ukraine with procurement of vaccines, including MMR vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella, for the state budget. 

Media Contacts

Nina Sorokopud

Chief of Communication

UNICEF in Ukraine

Tel: +380503882951

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