Also vaccinate parents to eliminate measles faster

03 September 2019

According to a study to which also FBK researchers contributed, parental vaccination can help contain the spread of measles in Italy

In Italy, the measles vaccine should be given between 12 and 15 months of age and a new policy has recently been introduced to cover children and teenagers who have not yet been vaccinated at the time of school entry. In recent years, however, measles has not affected young children only. Even adults over the age of 20 often get sick, and the average age of those in Italy who contract measles is 27 years.

Researchers from the Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK) in Trento, Bocconi University in Milan and Northeastern University in Boston asked themselves what solutions could be adopted to stop the spread of the disease and studied the different possible scenarios in the near future.

The research, published today in the scientific journal eLife, shows that continuing with the current provisions on the vaccination of children, in Italy will not eliminate measles before 2045. If, on the other hand, adults who have never contracted measles were also vaccinated, the disease could be defeated more quickly. The researchers’ work took into consideration in particular parents who have not yet contracted the disease and who had not been vaccinated in the past, and whom could be offered to get vaccinated together with their children. In this way – scholars argue – the elimination of measles in Italy could be achieved at least 5-15 years earlier.

“The situation we observe in Italy, characterized by a majority of measles cases among adults, is typical of high-income countries,” Valentina Marziano, FBK researcher and first author of the study published in eLife, explained. “Current vaccination policies target children and teenagers, leaving a large part of the population that had not been vaccinated in the past at risk of contracting the disease. Our study, based on mathematical models, shows that continuing with the current vaccination policies, the elimination of measles in Italy is unlikely to occur before 2045.”

“Thanks to the additional parental vaccination, the disease could be defeated more quickly and we could succeed in eliminating measles in Italy between 2030 and 2040 – Stefano Merler, FBK researcher and coordinator of the study – said. Other actions to involve adults in general could be just as effective and further studies to verify the economic sustainability of these solutions should be carried out, but parental vaccination seems to represent a particularly promising solution“.

For more information: The Study published in eLife

Viviana Lupi | [email protected]   +39 0461 617