The World Health Organization (WHO) calls for immediate measles vaccinations across Europe and central Asia after a series of outbreaks.
The WHO officials say they have been “taken aback” by more than 22,000 cases in 2014 and the first months of 2015.
The health organization demands that counties control the outbreaks with “no exception”.
It says the surges threaten the goal of eliminating measles in the region by the end of 2015.
Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said: “When we consider that over the past two decades we have seen a reduction of 96% in the number of measles cases in the European region, and that we are just a step away from eliminating the disease, we are taken aback by these numbers.
“We must collectively respond, without further delay, to close immunization gaps.
“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.”
According to the WHO, a growing number of parents are refusing to vaccinate their children or are facing barriers in getting the immunizations they need.
Dr. Nedret Emiroglu, from the WHO, says: “The priority is now to control current outbreaks through immunization activities targeting people at risk.
“At the same time, all countries, with no exception, need to keep a very high coverage of regular measles vaccination, so that similar outbreaks won’t happen again in our region, and measles can be eliminated once and for all.”
The news comes after an 18-month-old boy died of measles in Germany, sparking a nationwide debate about whether immunizations should be made compulsory.
In California, the department of public health has reported an outbreak of measles with more than 100 registered cases so far. Most of those showing symptoms of the disease were not vaccinated.