New data released on Friday by leading health agencies reveals a distressing reality – measles disease outbreak and deaths across the globe nearly doubled last year, marking a 43% spike.
Global Impact: Measles Cases Soar, WHO Launches Immunization Recovery Plan
In a recent report featured by USA Today, in November 18, 2023, the primary culprit behind this measles disease outbreak surge is identified as the dramatic decrease in vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) highlight that immunization levels plummeted to their lowest in 15 years during the pandemic, resulting in nearly 33 million children missing a vaccine dose in the past year alone. The increase in measles disease outbreaks and deaths is alarming, reflecting the repercussions of declining vaccination rates witnessed in recent years, according to John Vertefeuille, director of the CDC’s Global Immunization Division.
The highly contagious measles disease outbreak infected 9 million children in 2022, marking a 20% increase from the previous year, claiming the lives of 136,000 individuals. Disturbingly, epidemics raged in 14 more countries than in 2021. Despite the efficacy of two doses of the measles vaccine in protecting children in developing countries, immunization rates remain stagnant at about 66%, with no recovery observed from the setbacks during the pandemic.
In response to rising measles disease outbreak rates and other diseases, WHO initiated an immunization recovery plan in April. This plan aims to intensify vaccination education programs globally, especially in wealthier nations like the United Kingdom, to counteract the concerning trends in immunization.
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Measles in the US: A Growing Threat
According to the news reported by CBS News, measles data in the United States reveals a significant spike in measles disease outbreak cases, with the number more than doubling between 2022 and 2021, reaching 121 reports from 49. This surge continues a trend observed from 2019 through 2020, with 1,287 cases reported in 31 states, the highest since 1992. The vaccination landscape in the U.S. remains mixed, with overall measles vaccination rates around 90%.
While approximately 93% of U.S. kindergarteners received state-required vaccinations for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) in 2022, state-level disparities persist. This raises concerns about the potential for further measles disease outbreak and explores the importance of targeted vaccination efforts to curb the resurgence of measles.