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CDC Reports Over 100 Cases of Measles Across 21 States

AUG 17, 2018 | KRISTI ROSA
Despite the fact that the highly contagious disease is vaccine preventable, measles infections continue to spring up throughout the United States, quickly spreading through coughing and sneezing, and sometimes resulting in outbreaks that are particularly hard to quell.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been more than 100 cases of measles reported this year across 21 states—Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington—as well as the District of Columbia (DC). With 107 cases reported as of July 14, 2018, the United States is on track to surpass last year’s total of 118 reported cases for the year.

The CDC’s 2018 midyear measles report also indicates that the majority of individuals who have fallen ill with the disease were unvaccinated, something that Scott Gottlieb, MD, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration lamented in a recent tweet. This is an avoidable tragedy,” he wrote, using the hashtag #VaccinesWork.

One dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine is 93% effective at preventing the disease; 2 doses of vaccine is estimated to be about 97% effective against the virus. As such, the CDC recommends that children receive the vaccine in 2 doses—the first dose should be given between the ages of 12 months and 15 months and the second dose should be given between the ages of 4 and 6 years.

Vaccine hesitancy is not new; the anti-vaccination movement has been around for quite some time. In fact, in Europe, it has been linked with a fourfold increase in measles cases. With the growing rate of individuals opting for nonmedical exemptions from vaccinations in the United States, investigators have identified several hotspots around the country that thought to be at particular risk for measles outbreaks.

One such outbreak that sprang up in Minnesota in 2017 was linked to a decline in vaccination coverage, which was in response to concerns that receiving the vaccine might lead to autism. Due to this fear, more parents decided against vaccinating their children, and the low vaccination rates resulted in a community highly susceptible to measles, which led to an outbreak which sickened 65 individuals.

“While no one can force anyone to take a vaccine, the best we can do is educate and hope that maybe these repetitive, reassuring messages about their safety and efficacy is something that triggers awareness in parents to vaccinate,” Jason Gallagher, PharmD, Contagion®’s editor-in-chief and clinical professor at Temple University School of Pharmacy, said in light of National Immunization Awareness Month.

Physicians and pharmacists play a vital role in communicating the important message of vaccinations, and with misconceptions caused by the rise in the anti-vaccination movement, it’s imperative that providers stay abreast of ways to educate patients on the benefit of vaccinations so that they can make smart, well-informed decisions pertaining to their health.
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