Things to do in the Caribbean

The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) is urging countries to vaccinate against measles to maintain its elimination in the Americas.

Western hemisphere map Public domain image/ E Pluribus Anthony
Western hemisphere map
Public domain image/ E Pluribus Anthony

Measles was declared eliminated from the Americas in 2016, following the declaration of rubella and CRS elimination in 2015.

The Region was the first in the world to have eliminated all three diseases, culminating a 22-year effort involving mass vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella throughout the Americas.

However, the highly contagious nature of the measles virus and the fact that both it and the rubella virus continue to circulate in the rest of the world mean that the Region is at risk of outbreaks.

In the first months of 2018, there were night countries in the Region reporting confirmed cases: Antigua and Barbuda (1 case), Brazil (14 cases), Canada (4 cases), Guatemala (1 case), Mexico (4 cases), Peru (2 cases), the United States (13 cases), and Venezuela (886 cases in total, 159 cases in 2018), according to the epidemiological update.

In light of this situation, PAHO/WHO has recommended the following to its countries:

  • Vaccinate to maintain 95% homogeneous coverage with the first and second doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in all municipalities.
  • Strengthen epidemiological surveillance in public and private health services to detect suspected cases.
  • Respond quickly when an imported measles case is detected in order to prevent the reestablishment of endemic transmission of the virus; this includes activating teams to follow up on patients with measles and their contacts.
  • Maintain a reserve of measles-rubella (MR) vaccines in each country of the Region for imported case control actions.