More than 1,00 people have contracted measles in the U.S. in 2019, according to the most recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention report.
This is the largest measles outbreak in 25 years, a dramatic increase from the 372 cases in 2018.
“Measles is an incredibly contagious and dangerous disease. The measles vaccine is among the most-studied medical products we have and is given safely to millions of children and adults each year,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. U.S. health officials stress the importance of two doses of the MMR vaccine as the best way to protect against the disease.
There at least 5 active cases of measles in Allegheny County, PA, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Children should be vaccinated at 12 months, because it is a live vaccine that is unsafe for children under 6 months. Children under the age of 1 face a greater risk of contracting measles and are more likely to experience more serious complication from the disease, according to Dr. Michael Ben-Aderet, the associate director of hospital epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
“Measles is preventable and the way to end this outbreak is to ensure that all children and adults who can get vaccinated, do get vaccinated,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.
Other ways to protect your children from contracting measles include: avoiding people who could be sick and those with weakened immune systems, including cancer, HIV, and transplant patients; avoiding crowded, enclosed areas; and washing hands regularly and thoroughly.
In 2014, the CDC estimated that the MMR vaccinations administered to children born since the Vaccines for Children Program began in 1994 has prevented 21 million hospitalizations and over 700,000 deaths.
Most of the major outbreaks in 2019 have occurred in Orthodox Jewish communities in New York, where people are largely unvaccinated, as reported by CNN. Washington State has the second highest number of outbreaks, and is also known for its anti-vaccination movement.
“Again, I want to reassure parents that vaccines are safe, they do not cause autism. The greater danger is the disease that vaccination prevents,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield.