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Measles in Europe - large increase in case numbers

09 January 2024

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a 30-fold increase in measles cases across the European region throughout 2023. Over 30 000 measles cases were reported by 40 out of 53 European countries between January and October 2023. This figure compares to 941 cases in all of 2022.

Measles is highly contagious and continuing transmission means there is also risk of spread to countries not currently reporting cases.

Advice for Travellers

Travel may increase an individual’s risk of exposure to measles virus, and facilitate the spread of disease to unvaccinated and susceptible populations. The travel consultation provides a valuable opportunity to ensure individuals are protected against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) viruses. Two doses of MMR vaccine, at least one month apart, are required to give adequate protection.

Consider vaccinating:

  • all travellers who have not previously had two doses of MMR vaccine or prior measles infection
  • travellers visiting friends and relatives (VFRs), and/or mixing closely with the local population
  • younger children who have not yet been fully immunised

For children, first and second doses of MMR vaccine can be administered earlier than they would routinely be given within the UK Vaccination Schedule (2 doses of MMR vaccine around 12-13 months, and before starting school at around 3 years 4 months of age).

  • MMR vaccine can be given from 6 months of age when early protection is required

See the TRAVAX Measles, Mumps and Rubella page for further information.