Bulgaria in talks to import measles vaccines as cases near the 500 mark

Bulgaria is in talks to import 200 measles vaccines to the free market, as vaccines are given free of charge only by GPs to children and medical staff, and there is interest among unvaccinated adults in being immunised, Chief State Health Inspector Associate Professor Angel Kunchev said on April 24.

Cases of measles are increasing and currently number 497, Kunchev said, according to a report by Bulgarian National Radio.

The numbers were rising in Sofia, both the city and the district, while the number was decreasing in the district of Blagoevgrad, where the outbreak began some months ago.

“There are not yet distinct outbreaks in other regions, although we have cases in Pernik, Kyustendil, Bourgas, Plovdiv and Veliko Turnovo,” Kunchev said. He said the infection in Veliko Turnovo had been imported from Romania, and in Bourgas, from Ukraine.

Every year, the state spends 40 million leva (about 20 million euro) on vaccines, he said.

Kunchev said that seven per cent of children did not have the first measles vaccination and 13 per cent the second.

“We have long known that we have two groups that are particular pockets, one is the Roma population, the other parents who are opposed to vaccinations. With the Roma population, which currently accounts for 76 per cent of the cases, we most often face difficulties in finding them.”

Weeks ago, as the number of measles cases in Bulgaria began to rise rapidly, the Health Ministry instructed its regional directorates to ensure that doctors’ records were checked to establish cases where children had not been vaccinated. Regional health inspectorates also have been carrying out targeted drives in certain areas to get children immunised.



The Sofia Globe staff

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