[WATCH] Measles breakout mostly in over 20s who were skeptical of vaccines

A total of 95% of Maltese children are vaccinated according to the Superintendent of Public Health

Charmaine Gauci said that the foreign anti-vaxxer influence on the local measles breakout was negligible
Charmaine Gauci said that the foreign anti-vaxxer influence on the local measles breakout was negligible

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said that the recent measles breakout was prevalent amongst a generation of people between the ages of 20 and 40 who were skeptical of vaccines.

Their lack of vaccination when they were young coincided with British doctor Andrew Wakefield's 1998 publication of a controversial story suggesting there was a correlation between autism and vaccines.

"95% of Maltese children today are vaccinated. With the 31 cases of confirmed measles that we saw, only seven of these were children and two of them were under the age of one, not yet of age when vaccines are usually administered. Only seven of these cases were foreign," Gauci said, insisting that the foreign influence was minimal. 

Speaking on TVM's Xtra Sajf, Gauci added that a majority of people who were infected by the measles virus were people between the ages of 20 and 40, whose parents were likely influenced by the Wakefield story at the time.

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci on Xtra Sajf
Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci on Xtra Sajf

"I don't blame the parents," she said, adding that such a story was influential and scary. Nowadays, however, Gauci said that studies upon studies have discredited Wakefield's claims and confirmed that vaccines are safe. 

"I hope that all kids in Malta will eventually be vaccinated. There are very few parents who have not vaccinated their children but there are quite a few who decide to wait before vaccination. This is likewise dangerous because children are going to school at a very early age and are quickly exposed to the virus," Gauci said. 

Europe saw 80,000 cases of measles in 2018 alone. 47 people died in Europe in 2018 due to measles complications.

"Over 500 million people suffered from smallpox before the 1970s. Then, because of a worldwide effort of vaccinations, the virus was eradicated. Any incidence of the virus today will be the cause of bio-terrorism," Gauci said.

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