2019 has seen the highest number of measles cases since 2000, when the viral infection was declared eliminated from the US. As of May 17, 2019, there have been a reported 880 measles cases in 24 states.
In December of 2018, a measles case was identified in Washington—the first case in 18 years. By March 18th, 2019, 72 measles cases were confirmed in the Pacific Northwest (the Portland Metropolitan area and Clark County, Washington).
The U.S. was officially declared measles-free in 2000 when there was no continuous transmission of the infection for more than 12 months anywhere in the entire country. But we may be losing our title in 6 months, which will make us the only other country besides Venezuela in North and South America without the status.
Why is This Occurring?
The measles vaccine has been available since 1963. However, America has seen a rise in something called the “anti-vax” (meaning anti-vaccination) movement, where parents are refusing to vaccinate their children. The way vaccinations work is by introducing the body to an agent that resembles the disease-causing micro-organism, thereby developing immunity in the individual. Children typically get their first dose of the measles vaccine between 12-15 months, and 95-98% of them will develop immunity. From 1989, children were given a second dose at 4 or 5 years old in case they did not respond the first time.
Despite the fact that the U.S. has been measles-free for so long, parents are growing increasingly fearful of vaccines injecting diseases inside their children. Major social media sites are combating the spread of false information about vaccines, but the best way to fight the recent measles epidemic is to ensure your child is vaccinated.
Request an appointment with Pediatrix to make sure all of your child’s vaccinations and shots are up to date.