Disruptions in vaccination campaigns during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could lead to as many as 16,000 deaths from measles in the coming months unless a rapid response is undertaken to vaccinate young children soon, scientists predict.
Countries struck hardest by the Ebola epidemic — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — have fallen behind in measles vaccination, with thousands of children now unprotected from the disease. The first measles shot is normally given between 9 and 15 months of age followed by a booster shot years later.
Writing in the March 13 Science, Justin Lessler of Johns Hopkins University and colleagues propose mass vaccination of children ages 6 months to 5 years in the Ebola zone. They warn that previous humanitarian disasters such as the Congo War and the Mt. Pinatubo eruption were followed by measles outbreaks.