Parents urged to vaccinate infants before holidays as measles cases climb across Europe

Irish College of General Practitioners issued advisory to have infants vaccinated at least two weeks before departure

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. File photograph: Reuters

Parents of infant children travelling overseas this summer should get an additional MMR vaccine due to rising incidences of measles cases across Europe, the Irish College of GPs (ICGP) has said.

It urged parents and guardians of babies from aged 6 months to 11 months to have their infant given a free vaccination from a GP at least two weeks before departing on a European holiday.

The clinical lead for infection control with the ICGP, Dr Scott Walkin, noted that measles is spreading fast in Europe right now.

“Getting the MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent cases of measles. It is a highly contagious disease. It is easily passed from person to person, where large number of people congregate, including airports, buses, trains and ferries,” he said.


People at the greatest risk of becoming ill with measles include infants and people who are not fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine, he said, and warned that “young babies are at particular risk of complications.

“Overseas travel presents a high risk of developing measles for unvaccinated children. It can be a severe illness which requires hospitalisation in about one in five cases. Vaccination is safe, effective and it’s essential for community immunity,” he continued.

Doctors also recommend that relatives of infants travelling who are not certain they are immune from measles should also ensure they have two MMR vaccinations.

If in doubt, it is safe to give an additional MMR vaccine. However, those born in Ireland before 1978 are considered immune and do not need an MMR vaccine.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF warned in May that measles cases across Europe continue to surge, with the number of cases recorded for this year soon to exceed the total number of cases reported throughout 2023.

Some 56,634 measles cases and four deaths were officially reported across 45 out of 53 countries in the WHO European region during the first three months of 2024. Throughout 2023, 61,070 cases and 13 deaths were reported by 41 countries.

For those with concerns about measles, or symptoms, visit, call HSELive at 1800 700 700 or talk to a participating GP.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor