CDC Urges Americans To Stay Up-To-Date On Measles Vaccinations Citing Rise In Cases

While measles is highly preventable through vaccination, falling immunization rates in the U.S. and other countries have led to outbreaks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday issued an advisory addressed to clinicians and public health officials to note a recorded increase in global and U.S. measles cases since the start of the year, and repeat its call for vaccinations against the disease.

The public health agency urged Americans to make sure children over the age of 1 are up-to-date on their measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccinations to prevent infections and reduce the risk of community transmission of the highly contagious disease. The CDC added that children from 6 to 11 months old who plan to travel internationally should receive one dose of the MMR vaccine prior to departure.

While measles is highly preventable through vaccination, falling immunization rates in the U.S. and other countries have led to outbreaks in most years, despite the fact that the U.S. declared it had eliminated measles in 2000.

“From January 1 to March 14, 2024, CDC has been notified of 58 confirmed U.S. cases of measles across 17 jurisdictions, including seven outbreaks in seven jurisdictions compared to 58 total cases and four outbreaks reported the entire year in 2023,” the advisory reads.

About 93% of cases reported this year were connected to travel, the majority of which were recorded among children who had not received their MMR vaccinations.

Still, the CDC noted that the risk of a widespread outbreak is low in the U.S. given most of the population has immunity against the disease, but “pockets of low coverage leave some communities at higher risk for outbreaks.”

Measles carries the risk of major health complications, including pneumonia and even death, especially among those who have not been vaccinated against the disease. It also has the potential to spread really fast as the CDC notes it takes just one person to infect nine out of 10 people who they come into close contact with.

Vaccine coverage of U.S. kindergarteners with regards to measles has fallen in recent years with the CDC estimating that about 250,000 children have been vulnerable to the disease each year since 2021.

In the 2022 to 2023 academic year, under 95% of schoolchildren in 36 states and Washington, D.C., had been vaccinated against measles.

Meanwhile, last month, an elementary school in South Florida reported multiple cases of measles after the CDC had urged health care providers across the country to be “on alert” for potential cases. Out of the Florida school’s 1,100 students, 86 had not received the MMR vaccine, CBS News reported.

The U.S. is far from the only country reporting outbreaks as Austria, the Philippines, Romania and the U.K. have also had similar waves.

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