Measles is now one of the most significant health care risks for young children in the U.S as cases continue to climb. The Centers for Disease Control now estimate that nearly 704 cases of measles have been confirmed in the U.S, which is the highest amount since the disease was virtually eradicated in 2000.
The main reasons that measles came back into the public eye is because a lower amount of parents decided to vaccinate their children. Measles and MMR vaccines were at an all-time high in the year 2000 and stopped the spread of measles altogether. However, the spread of dangerous misinformation from anti-vaxxers has led to a surge in measles.
How can I protect my child from measles?
The best way to prevent measles and protect your young children from the disease is to get an updated MMR vaccine. Make sure you contact your primary care provider, or a trusted medical professional, to review your child’s vaccination history.
Whenever your child needs an updated MMR vaccine, take them to an urgent care center or walk-in clinic for a fast, same-day vaccination. But there are other ways to prevent your children from the disease such as:
- Avoiding public spaces, communities, and other areas that have reported an outbreak of measles. Follow updates from trusted news organizations and public health departments to learn where the disease has spread.
- Fact-check any social media updates about the disease. Don’t allow misinformation to keep you from making a potentially harmful choice for your child. Speak with public health experts, doctors, and medical organizations if you want facts about safe measles prevention.
- Be aware of any updates from your child’s school about an vaccinated student and keep your child home. Wait for your school to tell you when it is OK to put your child back in school
Why has measles increased significantly in 2019?
Many parents are simply not vaccinating their children with the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The CDC and the World Health Organization flagged the spread of anti-vaccination messaging on social media as the main threat for the spread of measles. Many anti-vaxxers believe that vaccinations can lead to autism, even though many autism and public health experts have continually disproved this link.
However there are a slew of other factors including:
- The spread of measles from other countries: measles is still a public health concern in Europe, Asia, and Africa and can travel from international travelers.
- Access to vaccinations both locally or internationally: the best way to protect against measles is with the MMR vaccine, but some parts of the U.S may have limited access. Additionally, other parts of the world may also have a shortage of measles vaccines at any given time.
- Communities with higher population density: an urban community or city may be more at risk for measles since the disease can spread rapidly from host to host.
While multiple factors can contribute to a measles outbreak, it is important to understand who is most impacted by the disease: young children. Children between the ages of 0-5 have the highest chance of getting measles.
In Massachusetts, there have been reported measles cases which means the threat of the disease could increase in the coming months. Make sure you’re safely prepared with these guidelines!