No measles cases so far in 2021

Infant and child vaccinations appear to have been affected by the pandemic © Keystone / Christian Beutler

There have been no measles cases in Switzerland so far this year – thanks in part to the hygiene and distancing measures in place to fight the Covid pandemic, health officials say.

This content was published on September 14, 2021 - 10:44

According to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), there were 51 cases of measles in 2020, and 226 in pre-pandemic 2019.

It can be assumed that wearing masks and social distancing have had a positive side effect in the reduction of other infectious diseases such as measles, the FOPH told the Keystone-SDA news agency. According to the weekly FOPH bulletinExternal link, no measles cases had been reported by the end of week 35 (by September 7, 2021).

Measles viruses also spread through the air, like the coronavirus. It needs a certain number of unvaccinated people to cause an outbreak, the FOPH said.

In 2020, 93% of children between the ages of two and eight had been vaccinated with two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella combination) vaccine, FOPH added. By the age of 16, this had risen to 95%.

Pandemic effect

According to children’s and family doctors, some childhood vaccinations were postponed during the lockdown of spring 2020 but some have been made up since then. This trend is not reflected in the 2020 figures, as the then two-year-olds were vaccinated in 2018/9, the FOPH wrote.

Meanwhile, health insurer Helsana said in a reportExternal link also published on Monday that fewer childhood vaccinations had been received in 2020 – despite the authorities’ calls for children to keep receiving the jabs during the pandemic. For example, MMR vaccinations in toddlers dropped by -12.6% during the first wave coronavirus in spring 2020.

“The increased childcare at home and reduced contact with other children may have led to the assessment that vaccination would be less of a priority and therefore it was postponed,” the report said.

It is not clear whether these vaccinations will now be left out or whether they will be made up for in 2021, the authors wrote.

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