Health Minister: Measles outbreak ‘a red alert’

Chief Sanitary Inspector, doctor Jarosław Jan Pinkas (L) Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski (C) and professor Włodzimierz Gut (P) from the National Institute of Public Health - National Institute of Hygiene at the Sunday press conference. Photo: PAP/Jacek Turczyk

During a Sunday press conference, Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski commented on the recent measles outbreak in the Warsaw suburbs.

Measles cases tally 13 in Warsaw suburbs

A total of 13 cases of measles have been noted in Warsaw’s suburbs of Piastów, Pruszków and Nadarzyn.

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“Let’s vaccinate our children because the country’s security depends on it”, Mr Szumowski said.

The conference, organised together with the Chief Sanitary Inspector, took place in the aftermath of the measles outbreak in Warsaw suburbs. By Sunday 17 people fell ill, including an infant under 13 months, thus still before the measles vaccination age.

Minister said the situation constitutes a wake-up call for everyone. “This is a red alert that shows us: be rational, be smart, and vaccinate”.

Mr Szumowski added that “we can only protect those below the vaccination age by vaccinating ourselves. These infants have very low immunity as they do not yet have a fully developed immunological system. To provide security, 95 percent of the population should be vaccinated.”

‘National security at stake’

The Health Minister criticised the anti-vaccination campaign as groundless, lacking any medical evidence, and dangerous.

“All the online information concerning [vaccines’] side effects such as autism is false, it has never been scientifically proven”, he said, emphasising that lack of proper vaccination in the long run threatens the country’s security.

He was echoed by the Chief Sanitary Inspector, doctor Jarosław Jan Pinkas, who said that “there is no evidence that vaccination may be harmful, on the contrary. It is our civic duty to vaccinate and develop a population immunity.”

Mr Szumowski indicated that vaccination may have, just like any treatment, undesired side effects that should be reported. “However, these side effect are in no way as dangerous as lack of vaccination that can lead to an epidemic, should the number of vaccinated population fall below 85 percent.”

The minister concluded that Poles are safe now because the proportion of vaccinated population exceeds 95 percent. However, he added, “we should think responsibly, think about our children and vaccinate according to the vaccination plan. Only then our security is guaranteed.”