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Romania Urges Vaccinations to Stop Measles Outbreak

Could the anti-vaccination movement be responsible for the deaths of 17 children?

13 March 2017

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More than 3,400 people have been infected with measles in the past year, compared to just seven the year before, Romanian Health Minister Florian Bodog said last week, according to Ireland’s public broadcaster RTE, citing


None of the 17 children who died had been vaccinated, Bodog said. Only about 80 percent of Romanians receive the first of the two doses of vaccination recommended by the World Health Organization, and just 50 percent receive the second, he said.


RTE attributes the outbreak to “poverty, the lack of access to health services, and the percentage of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children” – although WHO considers several countries with advanced health systems like Belgium, France, Italy, and Germany, along with Poland and Romania, as high-risk sources of transmission.


Olivia Steer is a Romanian celebrity known for her controversial anti-vaccine stance. Image via AntenaStars/Youtube.


Romanian celebrities and even scientists are the mouthpieces of the anti-vaccination movement there, Italy’s La Stampa reports, joined by some religious groups, although the Orthodox Church has “somewhat distanced itself from these campaigns and encouraged vaccinations with the caveat that they ‘respect the freedom of the patient.’ ”


There is concern the outbreak could spread to neighboring countries, although the head of Hungary’s National Center for Epidemiology said there was no threat of a national epidemic there, The Associated Press reports. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control warned last week that "the likelihood of exportation of measles cases [from Romania] is high."




  • Another issue for Romania is shortages of vaccines against measles as well as hepatitis B and pneumococcus, La Stampa writes.


  • Eurostat statistics show that Romania’s infant mortality rate is among the highest in Europe, exceeded only by Macedonia and Turkey.


  • Seven of the 10 countries with the lowest level of confidence in vaccinations were in Europe, according to a study last year by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The French were the biggest vaccine skeptics among the 67 countries surveyed, Euro Scientist writes.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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