The city of Mumbai had 233 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, which is a significant increase from the 92 cases and two deaths reported last year. According to authorities, a slow vaccination drive during the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to the rise in infections.
India: Measles Outbreak Claims 12 Children in Mumbai
The most recent reported death, announced on Tuesday, was of an eight-month-old baby, who was only partially immunised, according to a press release from the local municipal body.
Measles, a significantly more contagious disease than Covid, can cause serious complications, especially in children less than five years.
The disease, which causes coughing, rashes, and fever, can be prevented by two doses of the mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
The MMR vaccine uptake has been low in countries across Europe, where there have been several large outbreaks.
Nine out of 10 people can be infected with Measles if they have not been vaccinated against it and are exposed to it.
In addition to causing a distinctive rash, the disease can lead to severe complications such as pneumonia and brain inflammation, and can sometimes be fatal. However, getting vaccinated can remove almost all of these risks.
Two doses of the MMR vaccine give 99% protection against measles and rubella and about 88% protection against mumps. It is more difficult for the disease to spread between people when a high number of them have been vaccinated.
However, since the start of the Covid pandemic, there has been a worrying decline in the number of children receiving these vaccinations on time.
In 2020, 23 million children did not receive the recommended childhood vaccines, and according to UNICEF, that is the highest number seen since 2009 and 3.7 million more than in 2019
Mumbai authorities say that around 20,000 children in the city did not get their measles vaccine on time because of the pandemic.
“Now, we are tracking all these children and holding vaccination camps on priority,” Dr. Mangala Gomare, Mumbai’s executive health officer, told The Indian Express newspaper.
Health officials say the drive is also being hindered by other issues like vaccine reluctance.
“After vaccination, some children develop mild fever and pain in the injected area, so parents don’t let them get vaccinated,” Shreya Salvi, a health volunteer, told the newspaper.