Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
GALINDO, Miguel A. et al. La eliminación del sarampión en Cuba. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1998, vol.4, n.3 ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891998000900004.
The vaccine against measles came into use in Cuba in 1971. During the seventies, a new early strategy for measles control was established, and it was followed by further efforts in the early eighties. Despite improvements to the control program, disease outbreaks continued to occur. In 1986, after examining the experience acquired through the control initiatives that were already in place, a new measles vaccination strategy was adopted. In time, the new vaccination strategy against measles came to have three main components: first, a single vaccination "catching-up" campaign targeting children 1 to 14 years of age. Second, efforts were made to achieve and maintain high vaccine coverage through mandatory vaccination services for 12-month-old children ("maintenance vaccination"). Finally, periodic "follow-up" campaigns were carried out for children 2 to 6 years of age. Steps were taken, for the purpose of monitoring the progress made so far toward eliminating measles, to strengthen disease surveillance systems, including the screening of suspected cases. The "catching-up" and "follow-up" campaigns both achieved greater than 98% coverage within targeted age groups. The routine vaccination program has also maintained high coverage. The high population immunity against measles that has been attained through these vaccination strategies has resulted in a rapid decrease in the incidence of the disease. From 1989 to 1992, less than 20 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported annually. In Cuba, the last case confirmed through serologic screening was reported in July 1993. Cuba's strategy for measles elimination has interrupted disease transmission and kept the causal virus from circulating on the island. Cuba's experience with measles elimination suggests that if an appropriate vaccination strategy is applied, measles can be globally eradicated.