I came away from this week's launch of European Immunization Week in sombre mood. To be honest, I'd expected some fairly perfunctory speeches about the importance of vaccination, the usual niceties about improving communication, followed by coffee and a chat.I was looking forward to it.
But the real sense of unease among top public health officials from the WHO, UN and European Commission - as well as political and royal representatives of Belgium - was palpable.
They painted a stark picture of surging measles rates and a frustrating (not to mention lethal) outbreak of polio which undid efforts to keep the European region polio free for a decade.
Then I came across this article on measles in France. It's in French but the most startling part is the graph at the top. Look at how measles cases held steady for years and then, quite suddenly, leapt last spring before really surging at the end of 2010.The figures for last month are truly shocking.
I'm sitting in an office in Brussels contemplating the amount of daily traffic between here and Paris and realising that we are witnessing a genuine epidemic on our doorstep. Measles has broken through.
So where does all of this leave efforts to eradicate measles in Europe? 'In serious trouble' is my answer. It's a similar story for polio which we had hoped to conquer by next year. The odds of that are looking slim now.
The bizarre thing is that when I mentioned this to friends (in Belgium and Ireland) nobody seemed aware - or particularly interested! We're living with a false sense of security; the misplaced notion that measles is (a) rare and (b) a mild disease.
I fear we are about to be rudely awoken from that dream - but dearly hope I'm wrong.
We (@VaccinesToday) have a lengthy report on the launch of European Immunization Week here.
EurActiv also carried a comprehensive piece on the issue.
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