Bulgaria’s measles outbreak: More than 1000 children in Plovdiv not vaccinated – report

More than 1000 children in Bulgaria’s second city Plovdiv have not had the compulsory vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television said on March 4.

The figure emerged after the regional health inspectorate in Plovdiv carried out a check, following an order to all regional health inspectorates by the national Health Ministry in the wake of a measles outbreak.

GPs had been instructed to carry out the vaccinations by the end of March, the report said.

Of the 1007 children in the Plovdiv district who had not been immunised, two-thirds had been born in 2006 and 2017.

Dr Milena Panayotova of the regional health inspectorate said that the non-immunised children ranged in age from 13 months to 18 years.

It was possible that a large percentage of these children would be immunised by the end of March, and there was enough vaccine to do so, Panayotova said.

She said that 189 parents had signed documentation refusing to have their children immunised. They had done so on the basis of things that they had read on the internet.

Bulgarian National Television interviewed Sasha Dimitrova, the mother of a six-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy.

“I had a vaccination and a week later I had a new baby. As you can see, six years later, this child is in a wheelchair.”

Asked if it was proven that this was the result of a vaccination, Dimitrova said: “You can never prove it’s a vaccine”.

Over Bulgaria’s three-day weekend from March 2 to 4, the Health Ministry had not released new figures on the measles outbreak. The most recent figures were released on February 27, when there were 51 cases, most young children, who had not been vaccinated.

The Bulgarian National Television report came on the day that European Commission hosted in Brussels the first Coalition for Vaccination’s meeting, bringing together European associations of healthcare workers as well as relevant students’ associations in the field.

The Coalition is also being set up as the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared vaccine hesitancy one of the major global threats and confirming that 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if immunisation coverage improved.

The Coalition further aims to increase confidence in vaccines and improve the uptake of vaccination by citizens.

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said: “I am very proud to see so many healthcare professionals participating today at the kick-off meeting of the Coalition for Vaccination – the first fruit of the Council Recommendation.

“By being the first interlocutors in delivering correct information on vaccination to their patients, the role of healthcare workers in making the lives of all of us safer is immense. I strongly welcome the commitment of the Coalition to make vaccination the easiest choice, and wish them success in their valuable work,” Andriukaitis said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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