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65 cases of measles recorded in Ukraine in 2023 and 5 cases since the beginning of this year

7 February 2024

In 2023, six times as many people fell ill with measles in Ukraine as in 2022. According to the Center for Public Health of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, 11 cases were recorded in 2022 compared to 65 in 2023 (in 15 oblasts and the city of Kyiv). No fatalities have been reported.

In January 2024, according to preliminary data, 5 cases of measles were recorded in Ukraine: three in Odesa oblast and one each in Chernihiv and Volyn oblasts. The patients received the necessary medical care, and the regional centers for disease control and prevention conducted an epidemiological investigation of each case, including the examination of contact persons, to prevent the spread of the infection. During the epidemiological investigation of the last case in early January in Odesa, experts found that the family had returned from Romania, where a national measles epidemic had been declared, and the children who fell ill had not been vaccinated.

Currently, the epidemic situation with measles in Ukraine remains under control, but due to insufficient vaccination coverage, epidemic complications may occur. In 2023, 92.4% of one-year-olds and 87.3% of 6-year-olds were vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) in Ukraine. According to WHO recommendations, the level of vaccination coverage should be at least 95% to form herd immunity. Therefore, doctors recommend that Ukrainians visit their family doctor to check the vaccination status of their children and catch up on missed vaccinations.

According to the Immunization Schedule, every child should receive two doses of MMR vaccine - at 12 months and 6 years of age. Currently, the vaccine for the prevention of measles, mumps and rubella is available in all regions of Ukraine (the total balance in the regions as of early January was 221,435 doses). Vaccinations are free of charge. The vaccines used for vaccinations have passed state quality control and are effective against three infections: measles, mumps and rubella. The vaccines are available in the country's healthcare facilities and vaccination centers, which operate in hospitals, family outpatient clinics, and rural health posts. After vaccination, a specific immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella is formed, which reliably protects the child and reduces the risk of complications in case of illness. There is no specific treatment for measles, so vaccination is the only way to protect against the disease in the world.

As a reminder, measles is one of the most contagious infectious diseases: 9 out of 10 unvaccinated people are at risk of getting sick after contact with a patient. Children who are not vaccinated are the most vulnerable to the infection. The period from infection to the onset of symptoms is 6 to 17 days. Then signs of the disease appear: skin rashes, fever, runny nose, dry cough, diarrhea. Measles complications include pneumonia, ear infection (otitis media), brain inflammation (encephalitis), other serious complications, as well as disability and death.

The last measles outbreak was recorded in Ukraine in 2017-2019, when 115,283 Ukrainians fell ill and 41 people (including 25 children) died.