We aimed to describe the impact of vaccination on the epidemiology of measles infection in Flanders (Belgium), to document probable vaccination coverage based on this evidence, compare these epidemiological data with those generated by a mathematical model and estimate the costs of morbidity from measles. In contrast to previous analyses, we included the costs of long-term care for sequelae due to encephalitis and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). We estimated the direct health care costs per average measles case at 227, 212, 210, 200 and 194 for the age groups of 0-4, 5-9, 10-14, 15-19 and > or=20 years, respectively. Excluding long-term care lowers these estimates by 22-51%, depending on the age group. By including indirect time costs, we arrive at total costs per measles case of 320, 305, 210, 200 and 625, respectively. In addition to registering vaccination coverage more rigorously in the future, it seems necessary to undertake seroprevalence studies to document the age-specific immunity to measles. By using such information, current vaccination strategies can be adapted to prevent future outbreaks and to help eliminate measles from Europe in an efficient way. We noted throughout that many of the data sources are flawed. Better and accessible data bases are required to improve the reliability of similar studies in the future.