DUBLIN, Ireland: Ireland's Health Service Executive has issued a warning, claiming a nationwide measles outbreak could occur in the coming months.
Further, the Department of Health is weighing whether to begin vaccinating teenagers and young adults against measles.
Media reports say that Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will tell the Cabinet this week that cases of measles have increased in Europe and are expected to strike Ireland.
Adding to the danger, according to officials, is the falling rates of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations, adding to the vulnerability of the Irish and European public to measles this year.
Indeed, health officials report that 20 percent of the population in some European countries have no protection against measles due to low vaccination rates.
Irish officials note that nearly 20 percent of males aged 18 and 19 are currently unvaccinated.
Reports say the Irish government could institute a catch up program for unvaccinated young people nationwide. In the recent past, many Irish parents feared vaccinations were linked to autism, which has been disproved.
Officials add that measles vaccination programs were severely disrupted during the Covid pandemic.
Further, both the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in November 2023 that there had been a "staggering" annual rise in measles cases and deaths globally in 2022.
In 2023, Ireland recorded only four cases of measles, contained to a single family that had arrived from outside the EU.
No measles cases have been reported in Ireland in 2024.
In July 2023, British health authorities warned that measles could strike in Britain, with densely populated London facing a potential outbreak of 40,000 to 160,000 cases due to low vaccine coverage rates.