The Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said that the number of measles cases reported in the US this year have reached 1,001, and are to continue rising. Last week, this number had reached a 25 year high. More cases have been reported than 1994, when the number reached 958. The CDC has said that if this continues, US will risk losing the status of elimination which it has held since 2000, when measles was eradicated as it had not infected any cases in one year.
CNN has stated that a majority of US states have reported cases, with maximum numbers in the neighborhoods of Queens and Brooklyn, as well as Rockland County upstate. 566 cases have been reported according to the New York City Health Department since September 2018. Clark County in Washington has the second largest outbreak, numbered at 70 cases, while 44 have been reported in Michigan, 4 in Oakland County, officials said.
Once a terror, CDC estimates three to four million people in the US were affected annually before the vaccine was invented in 1963. 48,000 were hospitalized and 400-500 have died of the virus, and children below the age of 15 were the worst affected.
In 2014, the vaccine had prevented the loss of 732,000 children’s lives, and 21 million hospitalizations within a 20 year period according to the CDC. The Vaccines for Children Program has been established in 1994, and was taken up in response to the death toll between 1989-1991.
Countless studies have shown that vaccinations are safe and effective against the virus. The decline in vaccinations and increase in anti-vax opinions has caused this outbreak. Due to lack of access, and missed doctor’s visits, along with seekers of non-medical exemptions have also contributed.
The anti-vaxxers movement of conspiracy theorists who propagate false claims such as vaccinations causing autism and other ailments like ‘vaccine overload’ are tied to the non medical exemptions. Reports have shown that followers of the movement have increased in the recent past and are driven by misinformation on social media.
Anti-vaxxers rallies have been held in Washington in opposition to restrictions on non-med vaccines earlier this year, which were not successful in stopping the bill, but caused an exemptions to mumps, measles and rubella vaccines. It has also been indicated that propaganda fliers have been distributed in the affected NYC neighborhoods by national anti-vax organizations.
Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar has said in CDC’s news release that the US health authorities are working towards the aim of stopping the outbreak as well as the spread of misinformation. It was reiterated that vaccines are effective public heath tools which can prevent the epidemic and is highly researched to give safety to millions of lives each year. Measles was termed a highly contagious disease and the report urged Americans to consult their doctors for information on vaccines which are recommended to save their lives and their families from preventable diseases.