Visiting Ukraine?  Check Your Diphtheria & Measles Vaccinations

Diphtheria and measles outbreaks continue to spread in Ukraine

young girl looking upset

In addition to the ongoing measles outbreak in Ukraine, the Ministry of Health disclosed a 3rd case of diphtheria.

This is a serious situation since only 50 percent of children in Ukraine were protected by the third vaccine dose at the age of 18 months in 2017.

Moreover, less than half of Ukrainian adults were immunized for diphtheria.

Diphtheria is an illness that is spread through coughing and sneezing. If an infected person has skin sores, it can also be spread by touching the sores.  

Death occurs in 5-10 percent of cases with breathing problems, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On July 10, 2018, the Ukrainian Health Ministry reported that a 5-year-old in the Kyiv region had a diagnosis of diphtheria.

The child has entered anti-diphtheria serum and is currently in the infectious department of the Kyiv Oblast Children's Hospital in Boyarka. The treatment includes an antitoxic anti-diphtheria serum, which neutralizes the effect of diphtheria toxin.

The Ministry of Health of Ukraine says for children, the vaccine against pertussis, diphtheria, and tetanus AKPP (with whole cell pericardial component) gives the best protection.

There is also a vaccine for the prevention of diphtheria and tetanus ADP and a vaccine for the prevention of diphtheria and tetanus with a reduced content of antigen ADP-M, which is used for adults.

In the United States, diphtheria vaccine is only available in combination with other vaccines that protect you against diseases such as tetanus and pertussis, says the CDC.

The US diphtheria vaccine comes in three forms: Tdap and Td (for adults), and DTaP (for children):

  • Tdap is similar to Td but also contains protection against pertussis. Adolescents 11 through 18 years old (preferably at age 11-12 years) and adults 19 or older should receive a single lifetime dose of Tdap.
  • Td is a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine given to adolescents and adults as a booster shot every 10 years, or sometimes after an exposure.
  • DTaP vaccine is given to children younger than 7.
    • Children should get 5 doses of DTaP, one dose at each of the following ages: 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months and 4-6 years.

Recommended:

Separately, the Ukrainian Ministry of Health issued the latest data regarding its measles outbreak.

And the news is not good.

As of early July 2018, an additional 1,021 measles cases were reported, bringing the total cases for 2018 to 25,008.

Of this total, 10,085 adults and 14,923 children have been affected. And, the measles death toll is now 12, with 8 child fatalities.

As of July 11, 2018, the CDC has only issued a Level 1 Travel Alert for Ukraine regarding their measles outbreak.

This CDC alert means Americans traveling to Europe should speak with a healthcare provider regarding their immunization status, before departing on an international trip.

International travelers can easily request a vaccination appointment with a pharmacy at Vax-Before-Travel.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information, and vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.