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WHO joins calls for measles vaccination

The World Health Organization is advising football fans visiting Switzerland and neighbouring Austria for the Euro 2008 tournament to get vaccinated against measles.

The European office of the organisation said it supported moves by national public health authorities to raise the immunisation rate and curtail a major epidemic.

A WHO spokeswoman said vaccinations against the potentially fatal disease were highly recommended for children.

A week ago the European Union health agency expressed concerns that the football tournament could become a major breeding ground for measles.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 1,312 reported cases in Switzerland. Most patients were not immunised, according to Swiss health officials.

In a related development the Swiss authorities say they are to release a special batch of 6,000 measles vaccine in the next few days.

They said the vaccine is effective only against measles – unlike the more common combined vaccine.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR