Are you travelling to Europe - Think Measles


Measles outbreaks continue in Europe.

Since 1 January 2018, the highest number of measles cases in the EU were in Greece (1,008), Romania (757), France (429) and Italy (164). Seven deaths have been reported from 4 countries – Romania (3), Italy (2), Greece (1) and France (1).

Measles cases continue to occur in Ireland.

Since January 2018 there is an on-going outbreak of measles in the Mid West with over 20 cases. In October 2017, more than 10 cases of measles occurred in North Dublin and in the North East. Visit our hot topic for more information.

There was a national outbreak in 2016. This involved 40 cases occurring in the South, the South East, the North East, the East and the Midwest.

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 vaccine you have a preschool or primary school child who never had MMR vaccine
  • you have a primary school child who missed out on the 2nd dose
  • you are not sure if your child has had 2 doses of MMR vaccine
What about children under 12 months of age?

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 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 21 March 2018