Are you travelling to Europe - Think Measles


Measles outbreaks continue in Europe.

Since the beginning of 2018 there have been over 41,000 cases and 37 deaths resulting from measles.

Measles cases continue to occur in Ireland. Since January 2018 there have been over 67 cases of measles diagnosed. We are aware of a number of cases of measles in adults and children in Dublin. Visit our hot topic for more information.

Most cases had not had MMR vaccine.

Measles is a highly infectious virus. The main features are fever, cough, red and painful eyes, and a rash. It can cause severe disease resulting in complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis and occasionally death. Although it is most common in young children, it can affect anyone at any age.

Vaccination with MMR vaccine is the only way to protect against measles.

Two doses of MMR vaccine are required to give the best protection. In Ireland, the first dose is given at 12 months by GPs and the second dose is given to Junior Infants in school by HSE vaccination teams or by GPs in Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim.

Travelling abroad?

All those travelling to Europe and other parts of the world where measles outbreaks are occurring should make sure they have had MMR vaccine.

What should adults and parents do? 

Make sure you or your children are up to date with your MMR vaccines.

Please go to your GP for MMR vaccination if you are under 40 and have not had 2 doses of MMR. There is no change to the routine recommendations from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC): MMR vaccine is recommended at 12 months and at 4-5 years of age.

However, MMR vaccine is recommended for children aged 6-11 months of age, travelling to other countries or regions where measles outbreaks are reported.

In most cases the MMR vaccine provides protection after 14 days. 

The vaccine is available to healthcare professionals to order free of charge through the National Cold Chain Service.

NOTE: If MMR vaccine is given before 12 months of age, this dose is not counted as part of the childhood vaccination programme. MMR vaccine should be repeated at 12 months of age, at least one month after the first vaccine with a further dose at 4 - 5 years of age.

What about children under 6 months of age?

The MMR vaccine is not recommended before the age of 6 months for infants travelling to areas where there is a measles outbreak. The vaccine is not effective if given before 6 months of age.

What about children aged 12 months who have received one dose of MMR already?

Because of the ongoing surge in measles cases in many European countries it is now recommended that children travelling to Europe aged 12 months and older who have received one dose of MMR vaccine  at 12 months should also receive a second dose at least 28 days after the first dose of MMR vaccine.

Ideally vaccination should be completed 2 weeks before travel.

What about Health Care Workers?

Health Care Workers (HCWs) in Ireland should have 2 doses of MMR vaccine. Two of the cases in recent outbreaks in Ireland were HCWs.

Further information is available at the links below:

A poster, consent form and frequently asked questions document that can be used during the outbreak are available for download below

 This page was updated on 29 August 2018