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108 thousand doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine delivered to Ukraine for free vaccinations for children

2 April 2024

The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is used for free age-appropriate vaccinations according to the National Immunization Schedule. Each child should receive two doses of MMR vaccine — at 12 months and 6 years of age. Vaccinations are free of charge and allows developing specific immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella or, in case of illness, tolerating it more easily and avoid complications such as pneumonia, otitis media (ear infection), encephalitis (brain inflammation), panencephalitis (brain disease). There is no cure for measles, so vaccination is the only means of protection against the disease in the world.

“Vaccination protects not only the vaccinated child, but also children who do not have them due to medical contraindications. Schools and organized groups where children study or attend should be safe for everyone. Therefore, if the recommended vaccinations are missed, for example, due to moving to another city, parents should contact the vaccination center or family doctor and catch up. This is a matter of individual protection for each child against vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Deputy Minister, Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine Ihor Kuzin.

Measles is a dangerous infectious disease that poses a threat to unvaccinated children and adults. It is transmitted by airborne droplets and is extremely contagious. 108,000 doses of the Belgian-made MMR combination vaccine were delivered to Ukraine to support the National Immunization Program by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with the support of the Government of Japan and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“This supply of vaccines will provide one dose of vaccine for each of 100,000 children. Vaccination is the only protection against measles, as there is no cure for this disease. The vaccine will help protect your child and prevent the spread of infections, which is especially important in times of war. Two doses of the MMR vaccine - at 12 months and 6 years - provide effective protection against measles. So, we remind parents that it is important to take their children for vaccination on time,” said Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.

In 2023, 55 cases of measles were reported in Ukraine in 13 regions, with 31 children among the patients. Last year, measles vaccination coverage in Ukraine among children under the age of one was 92.4%. To prevent disease outbreaks and in times of war, crowding, including in shelters during air raids, is an additional risk factor for the spread of measles, so timely immunization of children and adults against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases is important.

At the country level, a nationwide “catch-up” vaccination campaign against measles was announced in the summer of 2023. In three months, 153,493 children were vaccinated against measles who missed scheduled vaccinations due to war, change of residence, or other circumstances. Among them, 68,488 children aged 2 to 17 received the first vaccination, and 85,005 children aged 7 to 17 received the second dose of the vaccine.

All vaccines provided for in the National Immunization Schedule are available in Ukraine and are free of charge. Check if your child has all the necessary vaccinations according to age. Remember whether you have received a revaccination within the last 10 years. Also take care of vaccination (including booster doses) against COVID-19 - it is not included in the National Calendar, but it is also available and free of charge. If you have an irregular vaccination schedule (missed a vaccination), it does not mean that you need to start the immunization course from the beginning. However, it is extremely important to catch up on missed vaccinations as soon as possible, regardless of how much time has passed. So, contact your general practitioner, family doctor or pediatrician — a specialist will help you create an individualized vaccination schedule. The vaccine received from international partners as humanitarian aid is stored and delivered to the regions with the support of the SAFEMed project, USAID Ukraine - Safe and Affordable Medicines for Ukrainians.

For reference: in 2023, UNICEF procured and transferred to Ukraine more than 700 thousand doses of the combined MMR vaccine. The Children’s Fund also cooperates with the World Bank, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve the cold chain infrastructure in Ukraine. In 2023 and early 2024, UNICEF procured almost three million doses of vaccines (polio, diphtheria-tetanus, measles-mumps-rubella, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), COVID-19, hepatitis A) at the request of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, with support from the governments of Japan, the Netherlands and France and the international COVAX initiative. In addition, UNICEF has delivered nearly 6.2 million syringes for vaccination.