[WATCH] People urged to get vaccinated against measles in fresh drive

The government is offering free measles jabs for Mater Dei workers as health authorities urge people to get vaccinated against the highly contagious disease

Health authorities are urging people to get vaccinated against measles
Health authorities are urging people to get vaccinated against measles
Health Minister Chris Fearne on false link between autism and the measles vaccine

Health workers are being offered the MMR vaccine for free at hospital as part of government’s drive to ensure measles does not return to Malta.

The vaccine provides immunity from measles, German measles (rubella) and mumps.

But the health authorities are urging people who are not sure whether they are vaccinated to take the measles jab.

Measles and German measles were eradicated in Malta a couple of years ago but five recent cases have raised the alarm bell at a time when the rest of Europe is experiencing a resurgence of cases.

Vaccination programmes help keep the disease at bay and prevent it from spreading. But scaremongering about the supposed ill-effects of the vaccine on children has led to a growing movement of people in Europe who are refusing to vaccinate their children, leading to a resurgence of the disease.

The World Health Organisation believes the increase in measles cases is a direct consequence of dropping vaccination levels.

In Malta children are vaccinated at around one year, with a second dose administered at around three years of age.

Health Minister Chris Fearne on Monday said Malta had a very high coverage rate with 94% of children receiving the first dose and 91% the second dose.

However, he said that adults who had only received one dose of the vaccine when they were young – something that was normal practice years ago – should take another booster dose, unless they contracted the disease.

Fearne said there was absolutely no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The link has long been discredited and had been made by a doctor, who falsified research.

Christopher Barbara, chair of the Department of Pathology, said it was “false news” that autism was caused by the MMR vaccine.

“We would not be vaccinating our own staff if there was any kind of risk,” Barbara said.

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