In two days, the United States added almost 70 cases of the measles. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control announced that 2019 has the most cases of the measles since eradicating the virus in 2000. The agency blames anti-vaccine misinformation and organizations for causing the outbreaks.
On Monday, April 22, the CDC reported a total of 626 cases of the measles in 22 states. By Wednesday, April 24, the number spiked to 695 cases. CDC director said in a press release,
“This current outbreak is deeply troubling and I call upon all healthcare providers to assure patients about the efficacy and safety of the measles vaccine, said CDC Director Robert Redfield.
“And, I encourage all Americans to adhere to CDC vaccine guidelines in order to protect themselves, their families, and their communities from measles and other vaccine preventable diseases. We must work together as a Nation to eliminate this disease once and for all.”
Three large outbreaks across the United States have contributed to the most measles cases. An outbreak in Washington reports 74 cases. Two separate outbreaks in New York have remained uncontained since September 2018.
The CDC warns that with the outbreaks continuing the measles will gain a foothold into the United States. The evidence is evident with their statement because outbreaks have spread to Baltimore, Maryland, Michigan, and Los Angeles, California.
Measles cases in California spiked in the past week with more than 15 new cases added. The virus is spreading through multiple counties. California Health Department reported 38 total measles cases with 28 of the infections occurring in adults.
With the measles spreading rapidly, the CDC said their top priority is ending the epidemic. The government agency says they are working 24/7 to protect Americans from the deadly virus.
Additionally, they stated that misinformation spread by organizations and online is contributing to reduced vaccination rates.
“A significant factor contributing to the outbreaks in New York is misinformation in the communities about the safety of the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine. Some organizations are deliberately targeting these communities with inaccurate and misleading information about vaccines.
CDC continues to encourage parents to speak to their family’s healthcare provider about the importance of vaccination. CDC also encourages local leaders to provide accurate, scientific-based information to counter misinformation.”
Measles is an epidemic worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, measles cases are up 300% in the last year.
Due to the severity of the outbreaks, the U.S. Health, and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued a statement. Secretary Azar attempted to squash the anti-vaccine propaganda that vaccines are dangerous. Additionally, he reminded citizens that the safety of vaccines has been studied and firmly established over the years.
“The United States is seeing a resurgence of measles, a disease that had once been effectively eliminated from our country. And today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that ongoing measles outbreaks in 22 states has led to the highest number of cases reported nationwide since the disease was declared eliminated in this country in 2000.Measles is not a harmless childhood illness, but a highly contagious, potentially life-threatening disease. We have the ability to safely protect our children and our communities.
Vaccines are a safe, highly effective public health solution that can prevent this disease. The measles vaccines are among the most extensively studied medical products we have, and their safety has been firmly established over many years in some of the largest vaccine studies ever undertaken.”
Recognizing that misinformation by anti-vaccine groups, the Secretary said the government is starting a campaign to reinforce the importance of vaccines and their safety.
“All Americans would be safer and healthier if we received measles vaccines on the recommended schedule. Next week is a significant opportunity to educate ourselves on the importance of vaccines, as we mark National Infant Immunization Week.
The Department of Health and Human Services will undertake a comprehensive campaign to reinforce the message that vaccines are safe and effective ways to protect your children, your family, yourself, and your neighbors.”
With vaccine rates dipping around the country, the measles is not going to slow down. Nearly two dozen states still allow parents to opt out of vaccines for personal or religious reasons. Only three states in the country prohibit exemptions except for medical purposes.
As the measles cases grow in California, the legislature is working to stop the end of phony medical exemptions. A bill proposed by Senator Richard Pan passed through a committee which would tighten the rules and oversight of medical exemptions in the state.
Unless the Federal Government steps in to end personal and religious exemptions for vaccines, the measles will not stop spreading. At this point, the FDA and CDC may need to consider new approaches to stop the virus.
There are eight months left in 2019. If the measles continues to spread at this pace, 2019 could end with more than 3,000 reported cases.
Until recently the government has been reluctant to blame vaccine misinformation. However, announcements by both the CDC and HHS blame anti-vaccine organizations for causing the current measles outbreaks.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
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