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Russia: Government Expanding Vaccination for Measles Amid Outbreak in Neighboring Countries

(May 9, 2019) On March 6, 2019, the chief state sanitary physician of the Russian Federation issued a resolution requiring that vaccination for measles be expanded in the territory of the Russian Federation to cover those who, for a number of reasons, have previously gone unvaccinated. (Postanovleniye Glavnogo Sanitarnogo Vracha R.F. ot 6-ogo Marta, 2019 g. No 2 “O Provedenii Podchishayushei Immunizatsii Protiv Kori na Terriorii Rossiskoi Federatsii” [Resolution of the Chief Sanitary Physician of the Russian Federation on Conducting Outstanding Measles Immunizations in the Territory of the Russian Federation] (Resolution) No. 6, adopted on Mar. 6, 2019, Rospetrebnadzor [Federal Service for Control of Consumer Protection Rights and Human Well-Being] website.)

According to data from Rospetrebnadzor, 1,717 cases of measles were registered in the territory of the Russian Federation from January to June 2018, which is substantially higher than the numbers of cases from previous years. (Data on Infectious and Parasite-Induced Illnesses from January-June 2018, June 17, 2018, Rospotrebnadzor website (in Russian).) Additionally, the World Health Organization has included the Russian Federation in the group of seven European countries where 1,000 or more cases of measles were recorded in the first eight months of 2018. (Measles Cases Hit Record High in the European Region, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (Aug 20, 2018).) While the resolution did not introduce mandatory immunization, it calls for broadening the reach of immunization efforts, especially targeting people with no prior record of immunization, those who resist immunization, and migrant workers. The need for the current campaign is based on the thousands of registered measles cases in neighboring countries (Ukraine and Georgia). In Ukraine alone more than 30,000 people were infected, with fatalities registered. (Irina Nevinnaya, Not Vaccinated and Dangerous, ROSSIISKAYA GAZETA (Mar. 11, 2019).)

According to the resolution the following measures must be implemented:

  • From April 1 to October 10, 2019, the highest-ranking officials of the constituent components of the Russian Federation are to carry out immunization campaigns in the constituent components. Those targeted for immunization must include unvaccinated migrant workers. (Resolution § 1.1.)
  • From April 2019 to October 2019 vaccination campaigns aimed at immunizing people who were not previously vaccinated in accordance with the immunization calendar are to be carried out. (Id. § 4.1.)
  • Allocations for procuring live measles vaccine must be included in constituent component budgets in order to meet the demands of the population. (Id. § 1.3.) The resolution also calls for stockpiling vaccines on the basis of immunization campaign demands. (Id. § 4.2.)

To prepare for the expanded immunization campaign and reduce the number of people resisting immunization, the resolution calls for reassessing the validity of medical waivers to vaccination that people present. (Id. §§ 1.2 & 2.3.) These measures were to be implemented by March 25, 2019. (Id.)

Additionally, the resolution prescribes identification of vulnerable segments of the population (both children and adults), people leading nomadic lifestyles and/or those without permanent residency, refugees, internally displaced people, migrants, and those who did not receive scheduled vaccinations and who do not have immunity to measles. (Id. § 2.2.)

According to the resolution, employers of foreign nationals have until December 31, 2019, to complete vaccinating their foreign national employees who do not have certificates of prior vaccination or who have not developed immunity to measles. (Id. § 3.)

Rospotrebnadzor will oversee the implementation of the immunization campaign and provide for proper transportation and storage of vaccines. (Id. § 5.)

The Press Service of the National Immunobiological Company, the main supplier of vaccines in the Russian Federation, has announced that regions will receive necessary supplies of vaccines in a timely manner. (Regions Have Already Received Measles Vaccine in the First Quarter of 2019, NATIONAL IMMUNOBIOLOGICAL COMPANY (Mar. 5, 2019) (in Russian).)