Measles outbreak in the US is a vaccine hesitancy red flag


Measles outbreak reported in Clark County, Washington with 22 confirmed cases and 3 suspected cases

The news of outbreak of measles in the US comes in the backdrop of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releasing data for 2018 earlier this month.

CDC said the 349 reported cases made 2018 the second worst year for measles since 2000, when the disease was officially eliminated in the U.S. The report said that 2014 was the worst year with a reported 667 cases.

This outbreak of measles comes on the heels of World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) list of “10 threats to global health in 2019” which included “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the threats.

According to the WHO, “vaccine hesitancy” is delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services. In other words, it is people questioning whether their children should be vaccinated, despite the abundance of scientific evidence showing the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing disease and despite experts around the world urging people to get vaccinated.

Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, measles and rubella are targeted for elimination in five WHO Regions by 2020

The anti-vaccine campaign by some groups without any scientific reasoning and vested interests have been implicated in spreading misinformation.

The CDC report said most of the cases were related to unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities, as well as travelers who became infected after visiting Israel, Italy, France and Britain, where major outbreaks are occurring. It is also reported that at least 16 of the 19 people in Clark County who got the measles had never received the measles vaccine.

A total of 18 states the in US allow parents to use religious or philosophical reasons to opt out of vaccinations that are required for day care or school attendance.

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that remains an important cause of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.

Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, measles and rubella are targeted for elimination in five WHO Regions by 2020. Symptoms of measles include fever, running nose, sneezing, dry hacking cough and a skin rash that appear about 10 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

Measles is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Measles vaccine is administered as a part of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR vaccine) at ages 12-18 months and 4-6 years.

“The fact that we have had so many cases in 2018 is really quite discouraging. This is a completely avoidable situation. It is really quite frankly a tragedy that people are not vaccinating their children,’’ commented Dr. Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). “Parents can actually be misled into thinking that the vaccines are going to be causing harm to their children as opposed to protecting their children. We have got to protect those people in society in the same way that a parent protects their own individual child,” he added.