The High Council for Health has issued a new advice on vaccination against measles, advising that children should be vaccinated earlier than has been the case until now.
The change relates to the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella, which children currently receive at one year of age, then again as a booster shot at around ten years. According to the new advice, the booster injection should be given at the age of seven to nine, “to have more control over the eradication of measles among the Belgian population,” the Council said.
Speaking to Het Laatste Nieuws, Corinne Vandermeulen of Leuven university explained that giving the booster shot earlier would reduce the risk of forgetting altogether, studies have shown. In theory, about 95% of adults ought to have received two vaccinations; in fact the figure is around 87%.
The High Council’s advice comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) asked Belgium to bring its vaccination regime into line with current medical thinking, as the problem of measles in particular becomes more serious, largely as a result of a section of the public in the developed world, where measles had virtually been eradicated, now becoming sceptical about the side-effects of the MMR vaccine – a view that is not supported by the scientific community.
In Belgium, 90 cases of measles were reported in February alone, one of the highest figures in the EU. The problem is said to be particularly serious among people aged 20 to 40, many of whom may not have received the booster shot in childhood.
The High Council’s advice comes as the WHO marks its annual international vaccination week. It also coincides with a new advice on the flu epidemic expected at the end of the year ad the beginning of 2020. That advice counsels all persons aged 50-65 to be vaccinated against flu, some time between mid-October and mid-December