Surveillance report Open Access
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This study was prompted by two rubella outbreaks that occurred in northern Greece in the last decade (1993 and 1999) and by periodic changes to the immunisation strategy. It was designed to determine the current status of rubella immunity and vaccination coverage in this region, eight years after the last outbreak in 1999 and seven years after the last epidemiological study in the area. Among the 685 subjects studied the seroprevalence was 83.7% and the total vaccination rate was 31.3%. In people born before the introduction in 1989 of the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine into the national immunisation programme, higher rates of rubella seropositivity (88.1%) were observed compared to those born after 1989 (77.1%). The vaccination rates for these age groups were 14.8% and 58.1%, respectively. The reason for this difference is the lack of vaccination at the time these people were children, and it underlines the need for a vaccination strategy targeting older people as well. Among women of reproductive age (16-40 years), who represented 44.8% of the study population, 13.9% were susceptible to rubella and only 18.5% were vaccinated. These results indicate that there is a great need for a comprehensive policy designed to protect mostly young adults and women of childbearing age in order to prevent congenital rubella infections. This policy should also include competent surveillance systems for rubella and congenital rubella syndrome and an evaluation of existing immunisation programmes.


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