CDC Urges Parents to Vaccinate Kids Against Measles Amid Rising Cases

Over the past three months, the US has seen 58 cases of measles— the same number reported for all of 2023. See why the CDC has issued a health advisory and why vaccination is so important.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Updated March 19, 2024
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Image: fotohay | Shutterstock

Increased international travel and vaccine hestitancy is leading to a quick rise in measles cases this year.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory on March 18 urging parents to vaccinate their children amid rising case counts. According to the advisory, 58 cases of measles have been reported over the last three months in the United States—a concerning rise given that 58 measles cases were reported over the entirety of 2023.

The CDC emphasizes that most cases reported in 2024 have been among one-year-olds and older toddlers that haven’t received their routine measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Cases have been reported in 17 states so far, including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.

While far-reaching, the CDC maintains that the risk of widescale spread is low due to high population immunity. However, pockets of low coverage, where families have shown resistance to vaccination, leave some communities at higher risk for outbreaks. To keep these pockets of unvaccinated communities from cropping up and posing a bigger risk, the CDC is urging families to take preventative measures and vaccinate their kids.

The infection was nearly eradicated by the 1980s. Before the measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the US, according to the CDC. Since then, the widespread use of measles vaccine had led to a 99 percent drop in cases. But it’s made an unwanted comeback in recent years—a 2015 outbreak in Disneyland and a record-setting 2019 outbreak serve as just two recent reminders of how quickly measles can spread.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads through coughing and sneezing. It can initially seem like the common cold, with a fever, cough, runny nose and body aches, but a telltale rash may appear a few days later. Measles is potentially life-threatening and can cause serious illness in young children.

Vaccination still remains the best defense against this scary disease. The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is a highly effective way parents can prevent their kids from contracting measles. The CDC recommends vaccinating when baby is 12 to 15 months old, and then again at 4 to 6 years old. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97 percent effective at preventing measles, while one dose is about 93 percent effective.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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