Rubella in Israel after the MMR vaccine: Elimination or containment?
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- Anis, E., Grotto, I., Moerman, L. et al. J Public Health Pol (2013) 34: 288. doi:10.1057/jphp.2013.8
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Since 1996, after the full institution of the two-dose measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) regimen in Israel, rubella incidence has declined dramatically and has remained extremely low. Cyclical outbreaks ended; the two brief outbreaks that did occur were quickly contained; and epidemiological data indicate that the disease is practically absent from the country. But similar steep declines in the incidence of measles and mumps, the two other MMR-preventable diseases, were followed by major outbreaks in 2007 and 2010. Epidemiological analyses show that undervaccination of subgroups within the Jewish ultra-orthodox population, both in Israel and abroad, and virus importation into Israel, continue to be risk factors for all three MMR-preventable diseases. Israel's public health system, therefore, should focus on a policy of containment: improve MMR coverage among undervaccinated subgroups and assure that virus importation is no longer a risk. Then the goal of rubella elimination will become feasible. We discuss how the Israeli experience may contribute to the World Health Organization Initiative to eliminate simultaneously measles and rubella.