PARIS: Measles vaccination should be mandatory for children before they start school, in order to prevent future outbreaks of the recurring disease, according to a new analysis published Friday (17 May).
The World Health Organization states that measles cases – a highly contagious viral infection that causes rashes and fever that can prove fatal – increased by 300% in 2018.
While many new cases have occurred in countries undergoing disorders or conflicts, several developed nations have experienced significant increases in infections – a phenomenon that experts attribute to the creeping "resistance to vaccines".
Despite a vaccine that costs very little and is universally available, many parents are voluntarily putting their children in danger due in part to a fraudulent scientific document published more than 20 years ago that subsequently fueled conspiracy theories about conspiracies to spread the disease.
Filippo Trentini and colleagues from the Bruno Kessler Foundation examined seven rich countries and used computer modeling to examine different vaccination scenarios between 2050 and 2050.
They found that in almost all the countries examined, current immunization programs will not be sufficient to maintain "safe" immunity levels among populations.
The WHO states that the number of unvaccinated individuals in a given country should not exceed 6-8 percent of the population in order to avoid widespread epidemics.
"This is a complex phenomenon and can have various causes depending on the region," Trentini told reporters.
"In high-income countries, for example, it may be attributable to vaccine resistance and the grouping of unvaccinated people in specific population groups."
According to current vaccination programs, the study found that Britain, the United States, Ireland, Australia and Italy would exceed the safety levels of measles-sensitive people by 2050 .
In fact, the models have shown that the percentage of unvaccinated people in Italy – home to several recent outbreaks – may already exceed the "safety" threshold of 7.5%.
In Britain the unvaccinated rate of 3.7% was expected to rise to 8% by the middle of the century according to the current national approach.
"It is a very difficult task to predict future epidemics," Trentini said.
"The results suggest that routine programs with current coverage levels are not sufficient to maintain the high level of immunity required in the coming decades."
The authors of the study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, have nevertheless emphasized that mandatory vaccinations for school children – as has been implemented in France and Italy in recent years – would be effective only in combination with a better awareness of public health.
"There are some immunity gaps in Europe among adults," said Piero Poletti, co-author of the report.
"These countries would certainly benefit from the introduction of school-based vaccinations in addition to current immunization programs."
Sonia Saxena, a professor of primary care at the Imperial College of London, welcomed the research, but warned that mandatory vaccinations could have "unintended consequences".
"It risks depriving parents and those who have nothing at heart and risking an increase in unvaccinated children excluded from school," he said.
"The most important message for parents is that for (the measles vaccine), two doses of 2 years is the thing to remember: if everyone did this they would protect their child and even the entire community from measles outbreaks ", added Saxena, who was not involved in the study.
. (tagsToTranslate) Health (t) measles (t) vaccinations