Measles epidemic looms in Serbia as child vaccination rates decline

Vaccine for Measles (Mumps and Rubella) | Credits: Getty Images
Vaccine for Measles (Mumps and Rubella) | Credits: Getty Images

“Serbia could witness an epidemic,” according to a warning issued by Serbian epidemiologists. The most possible reason behind this is the decreasing number of children vaccinated against measles.  

In this regard, the World Health Organisation highlighted that in the year 2023, the total number of infected population was 42,000 in Europe, which a year earlier was 941. The authorities have shown concern to prevent the further spread of the infection, as per BLIC.

Rashes caused due to Measles | Credits: Google Images

The health authorities have highlighted that the major cause of such rapid spread is less vaccination against smallpox during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The concern was addressed by Epidemiologist – Dr Nebojša Bohucki, who in 2017-2018 reminded that as many as 5,800 people were reported to be infected from the disease in Serbia, according to Blic. Reportedly, out of the total, 93 percent of the infected people were unvaccinated – some were without vaccination status, and some were incompletely vaccinated.

In addition to this, one-third of 5,800 were admitted to the hospitals after facing severity and complications.

While addressing the same, Dr Bohucki stated, “In that 2017/2018 epidemic, according to ‘Batut’ data, we had 15 deaths, among which were four children under the age of five. When it comes to MMR vaccine coverage, it would have to be 95 percent or more, and the last data for Serbia published by ‘Batut’ was from 2022. and according to those data, coverage for the first vaccine received in the second year of life was 81.3 percent, which is far below 95 percent.”

He continued saying, “The second vaccine is received at the age of seven, before starting school, and ‘Batut’ says, when we look at 2022, that coverage at the level of the republic is 89.5 percent, which is not good.”

The sudden surge in measles cases in 2024!

It is to be noted that in the 1970s and 1980s, the vaccine against the infection was made, after which it was anticipated that by 2000, the disease would vanish from the planet; however, “in 2024, we have a problem with a threatening epidemic in the whole of Europe because vaccination coverage has decreased,” said Dr Bohucki, as per BLIC.

Representation for Measles virus | Credits: SPL

Further mentioning the same, Dr. Bohucki stated, “There is no cure for this disease. This is very important to say because usually, when we talk about infectious disease, we talk about prevention and treatment. We have an excellent vaccine for prevention, but we don’t have a drug that works against this virus itself.”

Additionally, he elaborated, “That’s why the story of fighting measles is the story of immunization and achieving and maintaining a high vaccination coverage of 95%. However, the vaccine lobby did what it did; it’s not just COVID to blame. We had a problem even before the COVID pandemic, not only here but in other countries; there was fake news about the harmful vaccines. And that is not true. It is harmful to be unvaccinated, and when someone gets sick, all kinds of things happen,” he elaborated.

Comments by other experts!

A well-known epidemiologist – Dr Zoran Radovanović, mentioned that measles is a serious and contagious disease, according to Blic. He was quoted saying, “It is a serious disease and, unlike other infections, it leaves the body in a state of reduced resistance for several weeks. It takes time for the immune system to reset. After smallpox, another disease often occurs.”

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