Measles Outbreaks Up 30% Globally Since 2016 Due to Lack of Vaccination
The controversial Government of India initiative mandating that children get the measles vaccine in school has recently set parent chat groups ablaze, and the WhatsApp debates that followed have kicked up a storm of vaccine misinformation. But new data published by the World Health Organization should convince anyone on the fence about vaccines: Measles outbreaks across the world are up 30% as a direct result of kids not getting vaccinated.
“The resurgence of measles is of serious concern, with extended outbreaks occurring across regions, and particularly in countries that had achieved, or were close to achieving measles elimination,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General for Programmes at WHO. “Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under-, or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease.”
Read more: How Vaccines Work and Why They’re Important
As we’ve reported before, vaccines’ success depends on so-called herd immunity, which can only be achieved when approximately 95% of the population is vaccinated. But currently, the measles immunization, which requires two staggered doses, has 85% coverage globally for the first vaccine and only 67% for the second. This means that not enough of the world’s population is getting even the first half of the immunization required to protect entire communities, and potentially eradicate the disease from that community.
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, a leading global alliance to expand vaccine access, said that misinformation misinformation about the safety of vaccines has bred resistance to immunization, prompting reported cases of measles spiked in 2017, with some countries seeing severe outbreaks of disease.
The best thing concerned parents can do to protect their children — and other family members — is ensure they are immunized for deadly diseases. While the GoI initiative is imperfect in its execution, the fact remains that there is no better way than vaccination to protect the population from serious disease. We are lucky enough to have a safe, viable, and effective vaccine for measles; now all we have to do is use it.