baby-0175Measles is a highly infectious viral disease caused by a Morbillivirus. It only affects humans and rapidly spreads among individuals who have not been vaccinated. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.

A leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths among children

Measles is a leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths among children.

In 2013, there were 145 700 measles deaths globally – about 400 deaths every day or 16 deaths every hour. In refugee settings, the death rate from measles may be as high as 30%.

Immunization from measles

Immunization from measles is effective, and has resulted in significant reductions in case burden in many parts of the world. Measles vaccination resulted in a 75% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2013 worldwide.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of children in the African region never receive their first measles vaccine dose in time for immunity to take hold.

The cost of protecting a child against measles is less than USD 1.00, and when correctly administered at 9 months of age, the measles vaccine offers life-long protection to approximately 85% of those vaccinated.


Adequate funding support from partners and National governments: In addition to the funding support from the Measles Initiative, national governments are expected to mobilize more  funds to support the operations during follow up measles SIAs.

Attaining high measles vaccination coverage rates: Measles Pre-elimination can only be achieved with high routine vaccination coverage rates (at least 90% of infants in all regions need to be vaccinated before their first birthday), and periodic vaccination supplemental immunization activities (SIAs) every 3 to 4 years reaching at least 95% of the targeted population. Follow up SIAs target children who were too young to receive measles vaccine and who were born since the last SIAs.

Strategies/ interventions

Strategies include:

  • Provision of first dose measles vaccine through routine immunization. Administration of first dose of measles vaccine to children of 9 months and older through routine immunization services.
  • Provision of a second opportunity for measles immunization. Supplemental immunization activities (SIAs) to reach children that have never been vaccinated in the routine immunization programme and children that have not been protected after the first dose.
  • Improved clinical management of measles cases: Providing supplemental doses of vitamin A to all suspected cases of measles and the appropriate and early management of measles complications.
  • Case based surveillance with lab confirmation


Related links

rubmeas2015WHO African Regional measles and rubella surveillance guidelines (1.42 MB)


Measles vaccination has saved an estimated 17.1 million lives since 2000

Fact sheet on measles

Immunization and Vaccines Development

For more information please contact

Dr Balcha Masresha
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it