Routine measles immunisations
Médecins Sans Frontières provides routine measles vaccinations as part of paediatric care, both in emergency settings and in areas where government immunisation programs are not operational.
During measles outbreaks, Médecins Sans Frontières also provides support and care for infected children, to prevent complications from becoming fatal.
Preventative action against measles
Launching a campaign before the first case of measles is identified in an area dramatically reduces the chances of an epidemic. For this reason, part of Médecins Sans Frontières’ measles response is to conduct mass vaccination campaigns in areas where measles vaccine coverage is low, and chances of an outbreak are high.
The other area of concern is conflict settings, where war has destroyed disrupted the health system. The lack of routine immunisation programs means vaccine coverage rates drop, making the population vulnerable to outbreaks.
Children should be fully vaccinated against measles by the time they're one year old, but this often doesn’t happen in these situations. This makes ‘catch-up’ vaccination important – to try to raise the levels of vaccine coverage and protect the population.
Measles outbreak response
In a setting like a refugee camp, where there are many people living close to each other, an outbreak is declared when a single case of measles is confirmed. Once an outbreak is declared, Médecins Sans Frontières teams respond fast, preparing a vaccination campaign. Even after the disease has started to spread, immunising people at risk can still reduce the number of infections and deaths.
Médecins Sans Frontières is advocating for new measles vaccines that are easier to use in complex humanitarian contexts. Developing a heat-stable vaccine that doesn’t require refrigeration or cold chain management, or one which doesn’t require injection, will be hugely useful in expanding immunisation coverage and protecting more children from measles.