Measles is a growing problem, especially for young children

Measles is a growing problem, especially for young children

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The MMR vaccine provides safe and effective protection from measles. For decades, health authorities have succeeded in getting more people vaccinated in order to prevent measles from spreading. Between 2000 and 2018, measles vaccinations helped dramatically lower the number of measles cases around the world and averted an estimated 23 million deaths, according to the report by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But progress is stalling. In 2018, measles-related deaths surged to 140,000 people globally, up from 110,000 people in 2017, the report notes. Sadly, most of these deaths occurred among children under 5 years old.

So what's behind this increase? Poorer countries, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, need stronger immunization programs, the report says. But measles cases are growing in rich countries like the United States too, and that's largely because misinformation about vaccine safety has caused some parents to postpone or forgo vaccines for their children.

To prevent measles outbreaks, 95 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated. Yet in some parts of the United States, MMR vaccination rates in schools have fallen well below that.

In 2019, America experienced its worse year for measles in more than two decades, with over 1,200 people contracting the disease. Yet even as lawmakers in California and New York have strengthened mandatory vaccine laws, anti-vaccine protesters have adopted increasingly hostile opposition tactics, NBC News reports.

Meanwhile, fewer than half of American children traveling internationally are vaccinated against measles prior to departure, according to a study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. That's despite the fact that many measles cases in the United States are tied to overseas travel.

Here's what you can do to protect your kids and other vulnerable children in your community:

  • Get your kids vaccinated. Children should get two doses of the MMR vaccine: the first dose between 12 and 15 months, the second dose between 4 and 6 years old.
  • Vaccinate before travel. Be sure you and your kids are up to date with vaccines before traveling. Babies 6 to 11 months old should get one dose of the MMR vaccine if traveling outside the United States.
  • Vaccinate yourself, if needed. Make sure you've had the rubella vaccine if you're a woman of childbearing age. (Remember, the MMR vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy). If you were vaccinated before 1968 and can't confirm you got the live measles vaccine, get revaccinated.
  • Read up on vaccine safety. There's a lot of misinformation out there about vaccines. Get the facts about vaccine testing and why it's not true that vaccines are linked to autism.

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Watch the video: 3 measles cases reported in Georgia (January 2023).

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