In the first 4 months of 2019, there were over 750 cases of the measles across 23 states; that’s more cases than any year since 1994. Is measles making a resurgence? But before we talk about today let’s talk about the history of the measles. In 1657, the measles was first documented in Boston, but the first working vaccine wasn’t created until 1971. The disease was declared eradicated in 2000, but recently there have been more and more cases. Though the 2018 outbreak had only 372 confirmed cases of the measles, mostly affecting Jewish communities in New York and New Jersey, it still caused a nationwide scare. Of the total cases in 2019 however, 450 of them occurred in New York City alone and there. So what’s causing this outbreak?
Elimination means the measles is no longer constantly present in the U.S. but travelers from other countries that may bring the disease and the disease is very easily spread in unvaccinated communities and countries. So far all of the 2019 outbreaks were caused by international travelers but the spread is helped by those who are reluctant or refuse to the vaccine.
Vaccine hesitancy could be a possible cause and is becoming a public health threat. In 2019, the World Health Organization warned that reluctance or refusal to vaccinate has already contributed to the resurgence of measles worldwide. New York City officials banned unvaccinated children from public spaces, though after a while the ban was overturned as the outbreak wasn’t nearly severe enough to justify such a decision. New York City also ordered all residents that weren’t already immune to receive the vaccine or pay a $1000 fine. Rockland County greatly affected by the 2018 outbreak so they began to offer free MMR vaccines to all residents and 18,000 doses were given.
Many people were up in arms about this and called upon companies. To fight this rising fad many companies have taken measures against it. Youtube added a warning about “vaccine hesitancy” to all anti-vax videos. Other major platforms have begun addressing the issue by reducing automatic recommendations of anti-vaxx content and changing advertising policies to ban harmful misinformation. Amazon removed some controversial content but failed to make safeguard. Pinterest replaced search results related to vaccines with an error message.
Addressing the problem at home isn’t enough – to truly rid ourselves of the measles, the disease must be eradicated worldwide. In order to accomplish this, we need to make sure we’re protected. Today, most of those contracting measles were never vaccinated. More than 9 in 10 of those born before 1957 have natural immunity but a booster shot can never hurt. You might also need a booster shot if: you received the inactivated vaccine, only got one dose of the vaccine, you plan on visiting an area with endemic measles, or if you are unsure of your vaccination status. A blood test, sometimes called a titer, will sow if you’re already immune to measles.
Find out more about how to keep you and everyone else safe from the measles here.
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