The Healthcare Ministry assured the public that all MMR vaccines being used in Macedonia are safe, after a tremendously damaging incident when a child was vaccinated with a vaccine showing an expired date. “Makedonijalek”, which imported the vaccine, says that it has conducted an internal review and attributed the expired date to a “technical error”.

A small batch of the vaccines had an older import date stamped on them, namely October 2018. Our company apologizes for the oversight and the disruptions that were caused. This batch has been withdrawn immediately in order not to confuse the public and it will be appropriately replaced. The citizens can rest assured that all vaccines are of top quality and are distributed prior to their expiration date, said “Makedonijalek”.

The picture of the vaccine with the October 2018 expiry date circulated at a time when the Healthcare Ministry declared a measles epidemic in Skopje over 10 new reported cases, and Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce moved to ban unvaccinated children from attending kindergarten and even threatened criminal charges against people spreading anti-vaccination calls on social media.

This only served to ignite a firestorm of criticism and speculation, and Filipce was forced to acknowledge that 15.000 children have not received the MMR vaccine, largely due to parents fears of autism. The “Makedonijalek” incident only further fueled the raging debate, which was already underway due to a major PR miscalculation on the part of the Healthcare Ministry during the September 2018 referendum.

Meanwhile, the health inspection service announced it is conducting checks in kindergartens and threatened fines of 2.000 to 4.000 EUR if it finds unvaccinated children. This fine applies to the kindergarten.