In the year 2019, it's bananas that we're even discussing measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. We have access to life-saving vaccines that protect us, our kids, and our most vulnerable citizens. But amazingly, we are still debating whether or not people should get these vaccines, or vaccinate their children. As much as we hate to admit it, the anti-vax movement has been remarkably successful at spreading disinformation and stoking fear and distrust, especially among parents. Despite the fact that we know vaccines are safe and effective and do not cause autism, the number of people who choose not to vaccinate is growing. And the results and effects of that disinformation campaign have been devastating so far, and are only going to get worse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that confirmed measles cases have reached a 25-year high, and it's only June.
As of May 30, 2019, there have been 971 reported cases of measles in the United States. That's higher than the last jump in 1993, when there were 963 reported cases. Measles cases are popping up all over the country, but some areas have been hit especially hard. Last month, New York City declared a public health emergency and began ordering mandatory vaccinations (New York City and Rockland County in New York have remarkably high rates of measles).
But it's not just in the US - there's been a 30% increase in measles around the world, and some countries that were close to eradication have experienced major setbacks. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the anti-vax movement is largely to blame. They even labeled the movement a global health threat in 2019.
If the outbreaks continue through summer and fall, the US is in danger of losing its elimination status. The goal to eradicate measles was first announced in 1966, and was accomplished in 2000. Before the widespread use of the measles vaccine, 3-4 million people a year got the measles, which resulted in 400-500 deaths and approximately 48,000 hospitalizations, according to the CDC. This was just in the US. The director of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, is urging people who can be vaccinated to get their measles vaccine. It is safe, it is effective, and once again, vaccines do not cause autism.
The threat of the diseases that vaccines prevent is far greater than any danger related to vaccines. Please, vaccinate your kids, and yourself.