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High risk of a large measles outbreak despite 30 years of measles vaccination in The Netherlands

  • L. MOLLEMA (a1), G. P. SMITS (a1), G. A. BERBERS (a1), F. R. VAN DER KLIS (a1), R. S. VAN BINNENDIJK (a1), H. E. DE MELKER (a1) and S. J. M. HAHNÉ (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 06 August 2013

Our aim was to assess progress towards measles elimination from The Netherlands by studying humoral measles immunity in the Dutch population. A population-based seroepidemiological study was conducted in 2006–2007 (N = 7900). Serum samples were analysed by a bead-based multiplex immunoassay. IgG levels ⩾0·2 IU/ml were considered protective. The overall seroprevalence in the Dutch population was 96%. However, 51% of socio-geographically clustered orthodox Protestant individuals aged <10 years were susceptible. Infants might be susceptible to measles between ages 4 months and 14 months, the age at which maternal antibodies have disappeared and the first measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccination is administered, respectively. Waning of antibody concentrations was slower after the second MMR vaccination than after the first. The Netherlands is at an imminent risk of a measles outbreak in the orthodox Protestant minority. To prevent subsequent transmission to the general population, efforts to protect susceptible age groups are needed.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Dr L. Mollema, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, P.O. Box 1 (internal P.O. Box 75), 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands. (Email:
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