Health Dept. investigates measles case, urge public to get vaccinated

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The UNICEF report noted the global measles crisis has continued into 2019.

Fuelled by the anti-vaxxer movement, it's estimated that more than 20 million children a year worldwide over the past eight years have gone without vaccines.

Unicef Ireland Chief Executive, Peter Power, said: "The foundation for the global measles outbreaks we are witnessing today was laid years ago".

Nigeria has the most children unvaccinated and under-vaccinated against measles in the world, despite a global decline in deaths from the risky but preventable disease.

He said: 'While vaccine hesitancy may be a factor for a small minority of parents, we know from our parental attitudinal surveys that confidence in the immunisation programme is high - the proportion of parents with concerns that would make them consider not having their child immunised has been at an all-time low for the past three years.

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Children need two doses of the MMR vaccine for full protection against measles, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommending 95 per cent coverage to achieve herd immunity, which offers protection against the disease spreading in the community.

UNICEF said Thursday the global coverage of the first dose of the vaccine was 85% in 2017, while coverage for the second dose stood at 67%. Coverage for the first dose of vaccine was 94% and 91% for the second dose, according to the latest data.

According to the new analysis, the U.S. wins the title of high-income country with the most unvaccinated children, with over 2.5 million children not receiving the first measles jab.

Next among the high-income countries came France and Britain, with more than 600,000 and 500,000 unvaccinated children, respectively, during the 2010-2017 period.

The situation in low- and middle-income countries, according to UNICEF is critical. Nigeria had the highest number of children under the age of one who missed the first dose at 4 million. For Pakistan and Indonesia, the figure was 1.2 million, and for Ethiopia, 1.1 million.

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According to health officials, anyone older than 12 months of age should receive the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine. Of the 20 countries with the largest number of unvaccinated children in 2017, nine have not introduced the second dose.

It should not be forgotten that measles is a highly contagious viral disease. The analysis is based on UNICEF and WHO's estimation of national immunisation coverage of 194 countries for 2017.

Earlier this month, the head of Public Health England called on nurses to continue to "speak confidently" about the importance of vaccinations as they remain one of the most trusted sources of vaccine information.

Number of measles infections worldwide in the first quarter of this year, nearly four times as many as the same period last year.

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