As several outbreaks have impacted a growing number of families across the country in recent months, doctors are urging people to get the measles vaccination right away. In 2019 alone, and it's only April, there have been more than 350 reported cases of measles in 15 different states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This figure is significant; not only because measles can be deadly in rare cases, but this year's number of cases so far is the "second-greatest" reported in the United States since measles was eliminated in 2000, according to the CDC. As such, the American Medical Association issued a statement on Tuesday, urging people to check their immunization status and get vaccinated against the measles.
"Getting vaccinated not only keeps individuals from becoming ill with the measles but also helps prevent further spread to loved ones, neighbors, co-workers and others in close contact," AMA President Barbara L. McAneny said in a statement.
McAneny continued in the AMA's statement:
As evident from the measles outbreaks currently impacting communities in several states, when individuals are not immunized as a matter of personal preference or misinformation, they put themselves and others at risk of disease. The overwhelming scientific evidence shows that vaccines are among the most effective and safest interventions to both prevent individual illness and protect the health of the public.
Amid a growing anti-vaxx movement in the United States, it's important to remember the only thing that can prevent someone from catching measles is by being vaccinated against it, as noted by Very Well Health.
McAneny added in the AMA's statement that the declining rates of "vaccination coverage threaten to erase many years of progress as nearly eliminated and preventable diseases return, resulting in illness, disability and death." She added:
To protect our communities’ health, it is vital that individuals not be permitted to opt out of immunizations solely as a matter of convenience or misinformation, particularly because of the risk to people who cannot be vaccinated — including children too young to be vaccinated, cancer patients and other immunosuppressed patients. When immunization rates are high, people who cannot be protected directly by vaccines are protected because they are not exposed to the disease.
Vaccinations are vital as measles, in particular, is a highly contagious and serious disease, according to the World Health Organization. Measles typically causes a rash and a fever and in some instances, it can be fatal, according to the CDC. Although measles can cause very serious complications to all age groups, it is more likely to seriously impact children younger than 5 and adults older than 20.
Even though it is recommended that children should get two doses of the MMR vaccine before they are 6 years old, it's never too late to get vaccinated against measles, according to Live Science. Adults who are not vaccinated against the disease should ask their doctor about the steps they should take to get vaccinated.
These cases of measles in the United States have already reached a concerning high and medical professionals are urging the public to take the measures needed to ensure that number doesn't rise.