The main reason for the measles outbreak in 2017 – 2018 in Ukraine was the low vaccination coverage in previous years. According to various studies, Ukrainians are gradually starting to become more conscious about vaccination.
According to the overall assessment of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO, in 2016 Ukraine was the third in the world among the countries with the lowest measles vaccine coverage rates. According to the schedule, less than half (45.5%) of Ukrainian children received the first vaccination in 1 year, and only a third (32.1%) received a second vaccination in 6 years.
In 2017, the planned measles vaccination level more than doubled – 93.3% of children were vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine at 1 year and 90.7% of the children were vaccinated with the second dose at 6 years. However, experts noted that almost 70% of measles diseases were registered among adults, which is the result of many years of low levels of immunization and indicates the absence of stable population immunity (for which 95-98% of the population should be vaccinated).
An outbreak of measles and an increase in the number of vaccinations against this disease have drawn attention to the low vaccination coverage against other diseases – diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. In 2017, only 51% of children aged 1.5 years received the necessary three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines, and among adults only 44.8% were protected against diphtheria, although booster vaccination against this disease is necessary every 10 years.
Since public awareness and trust to vaccination directly affects vaccination coverage, several studies and surveys have been conducted that find that the vast majority of Ukrainians understand the value of vaccination.
According to UNICEF, 84% of Ukrainian parents in 2017 sought to vaccinate their children on time, while in 2014 only 63% of respondents adhered to the Vaccination Calendar. According to the survey of the sociological group “Rating”, 75% of parents believe that vaccinations of children should be mandatory, and 15% do not support this idea.
According to TNS Ukraine, 75% of Ukrainians believe that there is a high risk of contracting infectious diseases in the country, but 40% of respondents consider a healthy lifestyle to be the most effective and safest way to prevent dangerous infections, while vaccination is in second place (33%). In 2016, the number of Ukrainians who considered vaccination an effective preventive measure was even less.
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