The ongoing measles outbreak reached concerning new heights Thursday, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the number of measles cases in 2019 has broken a 25-year-old record. The statistic is a big wakeup call because experts warn that the United States could lose its measles elimination status if the outbreak continues at this alarming rate.
The new year kicked off with a measles outbreak affecting Clark Country in Washington State. Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 23, a staggering 22 cases of measles were reported, according toThe Oregonian, a number that was mostly comprised of unvaccinated children.
As of May 29, the total number of measles cases in Washington has risen to 81, according to the Washington State Department of Health's website.
New York state also had its fair share of outbreaks, with 254 confirmed cases in Rockland County and 559 cases in the New York City area as of May 29, according to the CDC.
Amid these concerning statistics, the CDC announced Thursday that the total cases of measles so far in 2019 has reached 971, which surpasses the 963 cases reported for all of 1994, according to The Hill.
Considering there are still seven months left in 2019, it's disturbing to think of where the number of reported cases could reach by year's end.
To slow down this outbreak, the solution remains clear — get vaccinated.
“Measles is preventable and the way to end this outbreak is to ensure that all children and adults who can get vaccinated, do get vaccinated,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
Make sure your kid gets their first dose of MMR between 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose between 4 through 6 years of age, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) website. If you have any concerns or questions about the vaccine, don't hesitate to reach out to a trusted medical professional.
Unfortunately, if people don't start vaccinating, the U.S. could lose its measles elimination status. The CDC defines measles elimination as the "absence of continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more in a specific geographic area," a title the U.S. has held since 2000.
"If these outbreaks continue through summer and fall, the United States may lose its measles elimination status. That loss would be a huge blow for the nation and erase the hard work done by all levels of public health," the CDC said in a press release. "The measles elimination goal, first announced in 1963 and accomplished in 2000, was a monumental task. Before widespread use of the measles vaccine, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States, along with an estimated 400 to 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations."
Translation: Health care advocates, families, and medical organizations need to work together to put an end to these outbreaks ASAP.
As the CDC's director noted, vaccinations are necessary to stop this measles epidemic. And these record-breaking statistics should act as a wakeup call regarding the seriousness and urgency surrounding this issue.