Measles is spreading in Switzerland: Here's what you should know about prevention

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Measles is spreading in Switzerland: Here's what you should know about prevention
This article explains how the measles vaccination works in Switzerland. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images/AFP

Among many decisions you must make in a new country is how to keep yourself and your family healthy. In Switzerland, an important thing to consider is whether everyone's measles shots are up to date. That's because cases of this very contagious disease are on the rise.


How serious is the situation in Switzerland?

According to the Federal Office of Public Health, there have been 214 reported cases of measles in this country of 8.5 million people in the first nine months of the year. That is six times more than in the same period in 2018. Two people died from this illness – a 30-year-old man who had never been vaccinated, and a cancer patient whose immunity was weakened.

Is the measles vaccine mandatory in Switzerland?

It is not compulsory but recommended to infants at nine months of age and a booster shot at 12 months. According to Infovac, Switzerland's information service about immunisations, these two doses are 97 percent effective and give lifetime protection from measles.

But isn't measles a benign childhood illness?

Not always. About one in six unvaccinated people will suffer complications from this illness. Sometimes they can be very serious, including pneumonia and inflammation of the brain tissue.

Can everyone be vaccinated?

If that were the case, measles would be eradicated. A small number of people can't be vaccinated because of pre-existing conditions such as allergies to the vaccine's components. However, those cases are rare.

Is measles vaccine safe?

The weight of scientific evidence shows that measles vaccines, as well as other recommended childhood vaccines such as whooping cough, mumps, rubella and tetanus, are safe. If reactions do occur they are usually mild and short-lasting.

Can adults be vaccinated as well?

Yes, it is never too late to get immunised against measles, especially if you don't know whether you were vaccinated as a child. Doctors can check a patient's immunity levels with a blood test to detect if antibodies that fight measles are present.

Where can I go to get vaccinated?

Ask your doctor. He or she will be able to advise you.


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