What Should Parents Understand about Measles in the U.S?

Measles cases have ballooned in 2019 and the disease itself is one of the U.S’s most significant public health risks, especially for younger children.

In 2019 alone, there have been over 1044 cases of the measles reported across the country in a mix of urban and rural communities. The majority of the cases were reported in the state of New York, but have been reported in over 20 states so far. Additionally, younger children between the ages of 12 months and 4-6 years old are at the highest risk of catching the disease.

The recent spike in measles across the U.S. should be troubling for most parents, but the disease is preventable if parents stay aware of recent updates and key prevention areas to address.

So what exactly should parents know about measles in the U.S? How can they protect their children and loved ones from infection?

Measles cases are widespread and even present some travel risks

According to the Centers for Disease Control, measles cases have nearly tripled since 2018 as the U.S may lose it’s distinction as a country that has “fully eradicated” the disease. Currently, measles is present in the following states including regions of the East Coast including Massachusetts, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Florida. The disease has also reached the Midwest and West Coast as far as California.

The spread of the disease has been contributed to a multitude of risks including international and regional travel. If you and your family plan on traveling in the U.S and abroad, double check the CDC for any updates about flight risks and the potential risk of measles.

What are the main causes of measles in the U.S

Public health experts and organizations have identified (a few of) the following reasons for the spread of measles in the United States:

  • Antivaxxing campaigns on social media and lower vaccinations: The spread of misinformation on social media has been linked to a lower rate of vaccination rates in recent years. Since 2000, vaccine rates have declined steadily as more parents believe false information about vaccine safety, including the link to autism. However, experts have consistently disproven the link between vaccines and autism.
  • Increased international travel: Experts have also tied increasing rates of international travel to the increase in measles cases. Some countries in Europe and Asia still have a high risk of measles, which can travel through infection from international travelers.
  • Lax vaccination laws and regulations: Many states in the U.S allow parents to forgo vaccinations due to religious or personal beliefs, which can cause the disease to spread in early childhood schools and settings. Recently, many in-state legislators started to pass and debate vaccination requirements related to the outbreak.

What should I do to protect my child from measles?

The absolute best way to protect your child from measles is to get them an updated MMR vaccine. Only the vaccine can help your child build immunity from the disease, and it presents no health risks for your child. Speak with a trusted medical professional about measles vaccinations and other preventive vaccines.

By getting your child updated vaccines, they will be adequately protected even as the disease continues to spread.