Mass Vaccination Experiment of 38,000 Scouts due to Measles Outbreak in Sweden
38,000 scouts from 150 countries are set to descend on Kristianstad in southern Sweden for an annual jamboree as an outbreak of measles in Europe has organisers urging vaccination to prevent infection.
"As this is one of the most infectious diseases around it is a sensible call," said Anna Elmerfeldt-Wallinder, responsible for healthcare at the jamboree to the local Sydsvenskan daily.
Measles has been spreading across the continent during the spring, with France the most affected after 8,000 cases were registered prior to the summer, the newspaper reported.
The UK, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Sweden have also recorded cases. The once common childhood disease was until recently consigned largely to history after being incorporated into the standard vaccination programmes of EU countries.
Most children in Europe are vaccinated at around 18 months as part of the triple MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, but controversial research (later discounted) warning of the risk of the vaccine lead to many parents declining the jab for their kids.
Furthermore those born in the sixties until the beginning of the 1980s may have been neither vaccinated nor infected with the disease and are thus potential carriers.
Vaccination centres in Malmö have experienced an increase in requests for measles jabs recently as reports of the outbreak become known and with some holidaying Swedes uncertain of their vaccination history, Sydsvenskan reported.
Organisers of the jamboree are concerned that with so many young people set to gather in Sweden for the scout meet, the risks of an outbreak are significant.
"We therefore hope that our recommendations to participants to vaccinate themselves have been adhered to," Anna Elmerfeldt-Wallinder said.