LISBON, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The regional government of the Portuguese Azores islands on Tuesday highlighted the importance of parents getting their children vaccinated amid a measles epidemic that has seen at least 23 children affected since the beginning of the year.
"Vaccination is the main measure of prevention, it is free and it is available for all people present in Portugal," the regional direction for health said in a statement, noting that no cases had been found in Azores.
The statement added that the regional plan for vaccination recommends the doses when babies are 12 months old and also when they reach the age of 5.
The statement added that the regional direction of health was working in articulation with the director general of health to accompany the evolution of initiatives to control the problem.
Measles are continuing to spend across Europe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has pointed out that there is a "potential to cause large outbreaks wherever immunization coverage has dropped below the necessary threshold of 95 percent".
The countries with largest measles outbreaks are Romania and Italy, with Romania seeing 3,400 cases and 17 deaths since January 2016 and Italy facing a rise in the first weeks of 2017 with 238 cases.