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Watch: People urged to get vaccinated as measles cases soar

'Link between MMR and autism is fake news'

'Get vaccinated - it's free': Doctor Christopher Barbara. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Anyone unsure whether they are fully inoculated against measles should get vaccinated, health authorities have warned.

All staff members at Mater Dei Hospital are receiving the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination, following a rapid increase in the number of measles infections in Europe. 

Measles cases soared from 5,000 in 2016 to 42,000 in the first six months of 2018

Health Minister Chris Fearne, who dropped by Mater Dei as staff were being vaccinated on Monday, said the number of Europeans with measles had soared from 5,000 in 2016 to 42,000 in the first six months of 2018.

In Malta, there were six cases of measles so far this year - all imported except for one.

These outbreaks are the direct result of falling vaccination levels amid discredited claims of a link between the MMR vaccination and autism.

“This is fake news. We would not be vaccinating our own staff if there was any kind of risk,” Christopher Barbara, chair of the Department of Pathology remarked.

Measles is a highly contagious virus which killed some 90,000 people died worldwide in 2016. It can be passed on to others four days before a person showed any signs of a rash.

Currently, children are given the MMR vaccine at 13 months, followed by a second dose after they turn three. The uptake stands at 94 per cent and 91 per cent respectively.

Anyone who is unsure whether they have had the second dose, or never had measles, can get vaccinated again for free as there is no risk, Dr Barbara added.

Mr Fearne insisted that despite the high rates of vaccination uptake in Malta, the authorities wanted to enhance herd immunity. 

Photo: Chris Sant FournierPhoto: Chris Sant Fournier

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