The headlines can be pretty scary: Measles is now a public health crisis in many urban and rural communities across the US. Families everywhere need to know the current situation about measles nationwide and how they can protect their children from the disease.
During 2019, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that over 839 cases of measles have been reported as the number continues to climb across the country. New York City and Rockland County in NY are the most impacted communities and have reported the outbreaks of the disease. However, the disease continues to spread as 23 states reported at least one case of measles.
So what happened? How did measles spread so quickly and how can you make sure your family is safe from the disease?
How, and why, are Measles spreading so quickly in the US?
Major public health organizations including the CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), and state-level health departments explained that measles have spread for three major reasons:
- Lower rates of vaccinations nationally – Less and less parents are vaccinating their children in general. In 2000, measles was virtually eradicated because vaccination rates were at their highest in U.S history. Declining rates have allowed measles to steadily comeback into the public eye
- Anti-vaxxers and anti-vaccination messaging – The WHO recently declared anti-vaxxers and anti-vaccination messaging as one of the top 10 global health threats currently. The spread of misinformation about vaccines, the link between vaccines and autism, and other myths have contributed in part to lower vaccination rates.
- Spread of the disease through increased international travel – The growing number of international travelers has increased over the past couple of years, which has allowed measles to come in from other countries into the U.S.
For the most part, measles has spread because less people are choosing to vaccinate their children as the disease grows to spread more rapidly. The combination of all three factors mentioned above have led to the current outbreak.
How can you protect your family from measles? When you should get them vaccinated?
The best way to protect your young children from getting the measles is to get their MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine ASAP. Most doctors recommend getting an updated measles vaccine for your children twice in their life, based on general vaccination guidelines.
Children usually get their MMR vaccine between the ages of 12 to 15 months and a second shot between the ages of 4 to 6 years old. However, your medical provider may recommend the vaccination at specific ages for your children.
If you think your child needs an updated vaccination make sure to first review their vaccine history with a trusted medical professional. Parents that want to get their children vaccines ASAP should visit an urgent care center or local walk-in clinic for fast and affordable vaccines!