Health

Measles vaccination urged as historic outbreak continues

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One dose bottle of the measles mumps and rubella virus vaccine.									George Frey  Getty Images

Federal officials have reported 704 measles cases so far in the US since January 1. Most of the affected had never been vaccinated. Sixty-six people have been hospitalized. And that's why we're having a very striking outbreak.

US health officials on Monday updated the national tally.

Don't see the graphic above? "Measles represents a serious public health risk and deserves an appropriate response".

Essentially everyone got it.

The CDC also reported on Monday that this year's outbreak was sparked by 126 infections acquired by travelers overseas since early 2018.

He said anyone born from the 1960's to the late 1980's might want to check their immunization records, as during that time the policy was to only get one dose of the vaccine.

In addition, actress Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia Brady on The Brady Bunch, recently criticized anti-vaxers for their use of a show clip in which Marcia proclaimed that "you sure can't beat the measles". The vaccine used then was "not a live virus vaccine".

"The measles vaccine was widely accepted and welcomed", says Najera.

Globally, recent outbreaks dwarf US numbers.

It may be upsetting for parents to see their babies or young children receive several vaccinations during a medical visit.

"It can help, but it can't hurt", Giorgio said. Overall, 2,207 were left without full protection - giving an overall vaccination rate of 92.6 per cent.

Measles is considered to be one of the most contagious diseases. With a vaccine that is highly effective, this life-threatening infection is now making a tragic comeback, in part because of vaccine avoidance.

In 1989, measles surged to 18,193 cases, around 40% of which occurred in vaccinated children.

The CDC says one dose of the MMR vaccine is 93 percent effective against measles, while two doses are 97 percent effective. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes an outbreak to boost vaccination rates.

"The resurgence of measles is of serious concern, with extended outbreaks occurring across regions, and particularly in countries that had achieved, or were close to achieving measles elimination", Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General for Programmes at World Health Organization, said in a statement earlier this year. This includes tracking cases, laboratory testing, quarantining patients, compensating health care providers, public outreach and other measures needed to prevent further spreading of the disease.

Of course, in the years since, measles outbreaks have occurred, but all have stemmed from global travel.

The state has 14 confirmed cases, with a suspected case reported last week in Middlesex County. However, it has come raging back this year. But outbreaks would become more common. Children under that age and people who are unable to get vaccines for medical reasons (eg they are allergic to the vaccine or have a weakened immune system) rely on herd immunity to not get sick. President Trump, who had previously linked the MMR jab to autism, has told Americans to "get their shots". Vaccine-preventable diseases are risky. "It's just not been very clear in terms of the guidance", said Zdunek. "If these numbers continue to climb and new cases pop up that aren't associated with foreign travel, we're there".

And if you're going to be traveling it's better to be safe than sorry.

Dr. Michael Rapp says there are things that could impact your bodies immunity, like age and health.

"We hadn't been threatened with losing our elimination status before vaccine refusal rates went up", says Adalja.

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