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Measles: Why is vaccination important?
In the first half of this year, the results of the measles outbreak in Lithuania came out. Based on the data of the information system "Sveidra" of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), as many as 552 patients registered as the patients in Kaunas and Marijampolė county health care institutions suffered from measles during this period. They were provided with outpatient and inpatient treatment services.
Last year, the figure was much lower - only five people suffered from measles (one of whom was treated in the inpatient department).
Measles is a contagious and dangerous disease
According to Nijolė Bijanskienė, the Head of the Control Division of Kaunas Territorial Health Insurance Fund (THIF), measles is an acute, contagious airborne viral infection. It is characterized by fever, rash, and inflammation of the respiratory tract and conjunctive. The measles virus spreads through air flows inside buildings: corridors, stairways, ventilation ducts, installation shafts, as well as airway secretions, through dirty hands or objects.
A sick person is the source of measles infection. A person with measles also often develops pneumonia, laryngeal damage (croup), and less frequently brain inflammation (encephalitis). The most common complications of measles include inflammation of the middle ear, pneumonia, brain (encephalitis) inflammation, laryngitis, diarrhea. "Measles is an infection that is controlled by vaccinations only", - emphasizes N. Bijanskienė, - Measles vaccine has a history of more than 40 years. The vaccine is given to persons in their second year of life, and two vaccinations are necessary to induce long-term immunity. In Lithuania, according to the children's vaccination calendar, children are vaccinated when they are 15 months and 6-7 years old. Individuals are vaccinated with a combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine which is compensated by the NHIF".
It is noteworthy that people who were in contact with a person who suffers from measles may also seek vaccination with a MMR vaccine compensated by the NHIF. All they have to do is to contact their general practitioner. It is recommended to get vaccinated within 72 hours after the contact with a person who suffers from measles. If you have not been vaccinated within the time period specified, it is necessary to wait for the whole incubation period (21 day) and then get vaccinated if you have not been affected by the disease.
Patients experience serious complications
When asked which people, in terms of age, most often tend to catch measles, Vilija Andrašiūnienė, the Head of Statistics and Analysis Division of Kaunas THIF, answered that people at any age suffer from the disease: children, people of working age, elderly people. Patients who suffered from measles experienced various complications: they developed pneumonia, encephalitis, inflammation of the middle ear, intestinal diseases, etc. In the first half of this year, 189 patients experienced complications, accounting for 34.2% of all measles sufferers. Of them, 143 individuals received inpatient treatment services with a total actual cost of EUR 115,127 and an average cost per patient of EUR 828.
The data shows that treatment of measles is expensive. Therefore, it is very important to take steps to prevent the disease, to get vaccinated timely, and not forget to get insured with the compulsory health insurance. In such case, the treatment services of the patient are reimbursed by the NHIF.
Specialists recommend to get vaccinated
The specialists of the National Health Insurance Fund recall that children in Lithuania are vaccinated according to the Children's preventive vaccination calendar. Vaccination is recommended. However, consent from parents or custodians is required.
In April 2019, "Baltijos tyrimai" carried out a representative survey of Lithuanian population on vaccinations at the request of Vytautas Magnus University (VDU). "The data of the Lithuanian population survey shows that well over half of the respondents, i.e. 66.4%, strongly agree (27.3%) or agree (39%) that preventive measles vaccination for children should be compulsory in Lithuania", - said Ligita Šarkutė, the Associate Professor of VDU. – The compulsory preventive vaccination for children is mostly supported by the respondents who are 40 through 59 years old, as well those with a higher university education. The residents of Vilnius and Kaunas expressed the most favourable opinion of compulsory vaccination. In addition, women more often than men support an idea of vaccination".
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Measles: Why is vaccination important?