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Over-40s urged to get measles jab, even though Spain is free from disease
By thinkSPAIN Team Sat, Aug 31, 2019
SPANISH Epidemic Society professionals have called for anyone born before the year 1970 to get a vaccination against measles unless they know they have had both doses as a child, or have had the illness.
Its chairman, Pere Godoy, says the Society is preparing a national campaign aimed at anyone aged 50 or over.
Spain's ministry of health, however, has asked for this to be extended to anyone aged between 40 and 50 who has not had measles, not been vaccinated at all or not had both doses.
Some confusion has since arisen, as the health ministry has now backtracked and said it should have announced that anyone born after, rather than before, 1970 – meaning anyone under 50 – should be immunised.
In light of this, the safest option is for anyone of any age who cannot be sure whether they have been innoculated to go to their nearest health centre and book in a jab.
Although measles has been eradicated in Spain, cases reported elsewhere in Europe mean national health authorities want to ensure that if the virus does enter the country, everyone is immunised.
Nowadays, Spain automatically calls parents or guardians of infants to attend their local GP surgery and book the triple-virus jab – against measles, mumps and rubella, or the so-called 'MMR vaccine' – with the first of these due at the age of one year and the second at three or four years old.
For adults and older children, doses can be given at any time as long as they are at least a month apart, and the Spanish Epidemic Society says there are very few, if any, contraindications – in fact, it is even safe to be vaccinated whilst pregnant.
Although most northern European and Anglo-Saxon expats in Spain are likely to have been vaccinated, various scares, including in the UK in the 1980s, concerning childhood vaccines' carrying a possible risk of brain damage, may have led parents to decide not to take a chance – a similar situation that ended up with thousands of British children in this decade not being immunised against whooping cough.
As a result, many British nationals aged 40 or over are likely to have had all three conditions as children already.
A fortnight ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Spain a measles-free country, something its government has hailed as yet another success of its highly-lauded national health system.
This year, up to and including the third week in July, a total of 233 cases of measles diagnosed, but medical authorities confirmed these were 'imported' from outside Spain's borders or patients infected from those with imported measles, and that they were 'swiftly interrupted' to ensure nobody else caught it.
But elsewhere in Europe, nearly 90,000 cases were diagnosed just in the first six months of 2019 – more than the nearly 85,000 cases reported in the whole of 2018 – showing that the condition is on the rise again, given that around 26,000 patients were diagnosed with measles in 2017 and just 5,300 in 2016 across the whole of the continent.
These reports are based not just on the European Union's 28 member States, but on all 53 countries that make up the continent of Europe.
For the first time since records began in 2012, four countries have seen measles reappear after having eradicated the illness altogether – the UK, Albania, Greece and the Czech Republic – whilst in that time, two others, Austria and Switzerland, have managed to wipe it out altogether.
Spain has now joined Austria and Switzerland in this respect, but health authorities want to protect the population from any infections that may come in from the UK or from any other countries which have not managed to wipe out the disease completely.
Nowadays, given that it is so rare, a whole generation of adults may have no idea what measles is or what its symptoms look like.
The patient normally reports feeling achy, feverish and generally unwell, and presents a red rash that starts off minimal and spreads quickly.
It is not normally life-threatening in healthy children and young people, but complications can set in and it can cause serious birth defects or miscarriage in pregnant women, and be much more severe in late adulthood.
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