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WHO Urges Europe, Central Asia To Step Up Measles Vaccination

PRAGUE -- The World Health Organization (WHO) says measles vaccinations must immediately be stepped up across Europe and Central Asia.

The UN health agency's European director, Zsuzsanna Jakab (eds: a woman), said on February 25 that she was "taken aback" by more than 22,000 cases of the highly infectious disease since the start of 2014.

The cases were reported in Kyrgyzstan (7,477), Bosnia-Herzegovina (5,340), Russia (3,247), Georgia (3,291), Italy (1,674), Germany (583), and Kazakhstan (537).

Jakab said the surges threaten the goal of eliminating measles in the region by the end of 2015.

"It is unacceptable that, after the last 50 years' efforts to make safe and effective vaccines available, measles continues to cost lives, money and time," she said.

According to the WHO, a growing number of parents "either refuse to vaccinate their children or face barriers in accessing vaccination."

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