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Home » Measles surges in the USA — we need more vaccinations

Measles surges in the USA — we need more vaccinations

I have written about the ongoing measles outbreaks in the USA and its dangers to children, but the surge in measles cases continues and public health officials (except in Florida) are pleading for more measles vaccinations for children. For a disease that had nearly been wiped out in the USA and other developed areas of the world, it is really sad to have to read about this surge in cases.

I know it may seem I continue to beat the drum on the dangers of measles, but I tire of reading comments on social media that measles is “no more than a rash.” Of course, I have scientific facts on my side, so I am going to, once again, discuss what measles is and what it can do to vulnerable children.

All about measles and vaccinations

Measles (rubeola, not to be confused with rubella or German measles) is a respiratory disease caused by the Measles morbillivirus. This virus normally grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and lungs. 

The virus is spread through respiration (contact with fluids from an infected person’s nose and mouth, either directly or through aerosol transmission). It is highly contagious — 90% of people without immunity sharing living space with an infected person will catch it.

Infected individuals can spread measles up to four days before and four days after a rash appears.

There are no specific treatments for the disease. And there are no miracle preventions, except the MMR vaccine (for measles, mumps, and rubella). The first dose is usually given at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age. Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination. The immunity from the vaccine lasts a lifetime.

To be clear, children under 12 months are not vaccinated against measles and are the most susceptible to catching the disease.

In case you heard anti-vaccine claims about the MMR vaccine, there is no link between the vaccine and autism – this is settled science.

According to the CDC, some of the many measles complications are:

  • About 30% of measles cases develop one or more complications.
  • Pneumonia is the complication that is most often the cause of death in young children.
  • Ear infections occur in about 1 in 10 measles cases and permanent loss of hearing can result.
  • Diarrhea is reported in about 8% of cases.
  • As many as 1 out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia.
  • About 1 child in every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions, deafness, and other long-term neurological deficits.
  • A measles infection can result in short- and long-term immune system dysfunction which can leave the child susceptible to other diseases early in life (which is in direct opposition to claims by anti-vaccine activists that it helps “boost” the immune system).
  • About 1-2 children, out of 1000 who contract measles, may develop subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a rare chronic, progressive encephalitis that affects primarily children and young adults– it is caused by a persistent infection of the measles virusThe disease starts with measles infection, usually before the age of 2 years, followed by approximately 6-15 asymptomatic years. Some researchers think the asymptomatic period is around 5-8 years after the initial disease. The disease gradually progresses with psychological and neurological deterioration, including personality changes, seizures, and coma. It is always ultimately fatal.
  • And sadly, for every 1,000 children who get measles, 1 or 2 will die from it.

Measles is much more dangerous than most people think. I’m not here for fear-mongering – but real science tells us that measles is a dangerous, debilitating disease that has both short and long-term consequences. It is not “just a rash.”

And even in the USA, where over 90% of children have received their measles vaccinations, there are large groups of children who may be vulnerable to the disease. For example, children under the age of 12 months are not vaccinated. Although the MMR vaccine is very effective, up to 7% of those children who received their measles vaccinations may not be immune.

boy in red polo shirt wearing face mask
Photo by Josue Ladoo Pelegrin on

2024 measles outbreaks

According to the CDC, as of 21 March 2024, there have been 64 measles cases reported by 17 jurisdictions: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. This compares to only 58 cases during all of 2023.

Furthermore, there were two additional measles cases in Chicago, bringing the total to 17.

If this continues, the number of cases could approach the outbreak that spanned 31 states in 2019, when 1,274 patients got sick and 128 were hospitalized in the worst US measles outbreak in decades.

Because of the rise in measles cases, the American Medical Association has issued a statement supporting the increase in rates of measles vaccinations. The CDC has released a health advisory asking healthcare providers to ensure all travelers, irrespective of where they are traveling, receive the MMR vaccine. As I mentioned above, the CDC recommends that the first dose of the vaccine be given at 12 months, but an extra dose may be given at six months if the baby may be exposed to active cases in the location of travel.

According to The Guardian, 93% of the cases in the USA have been linked to international travel. Furthermore, most of the cases have been among children who were old enough to receive measles vaccinations but had not.

Despite nearly eradicating measles in the USA, thanks to vaccines, measles has not been eradicated in many areas of the world. According to an article in JAMA, there were over 9 million measles cases worldwide in 2022 — which led to 136,200 deaths, primarily children.

Get measles vaccinations for children

I’m going to repeat myself once more — the measles vaccine (in the MMR vaccine) is highly effective in protecting children from this dangerous and deadly disease. And in case you’re wondering, it is a remarkably safe vaccine, that’s a scientific fact, not an opinion.

As more and more unvaccinated children contract this disease, this may grow from a minor outbreak to a large one that will stress out the US healthcare system (which barely survived the COVID pandemic). Let’s stop that with the measles vaccine!


Michael Simpson

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