Bulgaria’s Chief Health Inspector, Dr Angel Kunchev, has hit out at what he termed “speculation” about the side-effects caused by vaccines, and warned of the high risk of infection facing people who had not been immunised against measles.
Kunchev was speaking at a news conference on February 27 at which it was announced that there were now 51 confirmed cases of measles in the country.
Forty were in the Blagoevgrad district, seven in the city of Sofia, three in the district of Sofia and one in the Black Sea city of Varna.
He issued a reminder that keeping to the national immunisation calendar was mandatory by law.
In the past year, regional health inspectorates had carried out 16 000 checks. In 112 cases, parents who had not had their children vaccinated had been penalised.
Kunchev rejected speculation that vaccines often caused side-effects.
“On the contrary, the smallest number of reported side-effects was in vaccines,” he said, adding that Bulgaria had a low bar for reporting side-effects.
In 2018, out of 2.2 million vaccinations, there were only 108 adverse events, most of which were transient reactions such as increased body temperature, swelling or redness around the place of the vaccination.
“It is important to know that if one measles patient encounters 100 people not immune to the disease, 95 of them get ill,” Kunchev said.
When the current outbreak of measles began, Bulgaria’s Health Ministry warned that the cases involved people who had not been immunised.
The government has issued an instruction for regional health authorities to check whether vaccinations had been carried out as required, and targeted vaccination campaigns have begun.