01.11.2013 Don’t miss out – get your measles vaccine now
Measles campaign 2013−2015. hich has a slogan that translates as "Don’t miss out –get your measles vaccine now", calls on the public to have themselves immunised against measles. The main target group is adults under the age of 50. The aim is to eliminate measles from Switzerland by 2015.
Weddings, holidays, an important public appearance – people with measles miss all these things because they have to stay at home. But measles can be avoided – two doses of the vaccine provide reliable protection against infection. This is the message of the measles campaign launched by the Federal Office of Public Health, the cantons and other partners at the end of October.
Few cases, but there's a drawback
Few people contract measles in Switzerland nowadays. This is a positive development, but it means that public awareness of the virus and of how dangerous it can be has faded. Though vaccination coverage for measles in Switzerland is high, it is not yet high enough to eliminate the virus. The information campaign is designed to draw the public's attention to the issue and motivate
people to seek vaccination. The target is to eliminate measles from Switzerland by 2015. The country is thus aligning itself with the Europe Region of the World Health Organization (WHO), which envisages eliminating the virus in Europe by the end of 2015.
According to the "National Strategy for the Elimination of Measles 2011–2015", a measles-free Switzerland is possible if three targets and thus vaccination coverage of 95% among under-50s are achieved:
1. In future, 95% of children will have been immunised twice against measles vaccine by the time they are two and will thus be protected from the disease.
2. Gaps in vaccination coverage among under-50s will have been closed by the end of 2015.
3. Every outbreak of measles in Switzerland will be brought under control without delay and employing uniform standards and procedures.
Closing gaps in vaccination coverage among adults
Current trends favour the first target: vaccination coverage is growing steadily among children and adolescents and thus reducing the number of fresh infections. The situation among adults is
different – recorded infections are on the rise. As a result of these two opposing trends, the average age of those falling ill with measles has risen substantially in the last few years, soaring from 9 years in the 2003 measles epidemic to 17 in 2011. This increase is due to adults under 50 who are not immune to the disease. They therefore constitute the focus of the campaign. The aim is to close the gaps in the vaccination coverage of this age group. To achieve this outcome, those born in 1964 or after are called on to check their immunisation status and, if necessary, have themselves vaccinated. Such cases are exempt from the health insurance deductible, and access to vaccination is easier thanks to the provision of local services.
Protecting ourselves and others
By being vaccinated, we protect not only ourselves from a dangerous illness but also people who, for medical reasons, are unable to be vaccinated. In addition, we make a significant contribution towards ensuring that measles is no longer inadvertently exported from Switzerland to Third World countries or to regions in which the virus has already been eliminated, for instance North and South America.
Information platform: www.stopmasern.ch
In addition to TV adverts and posters, the campaign has also gone online with a website, www.stopmasern.ch. It provides physicians and anyone else who is interested with full information on the topic and an opportunity to order brochures and flyers.
Debbie Rychener, Campaigns Section, FOPH, email@example.com