Health officials combating measles vaccine misinformation as cases reach 1,001
MelissaJenco, News Content Editor
Editor's note: On June 10, the number of measles cases rose to 1,022.
Federal health officials are working to combat misinformation about measles vaccines
as the case count reached 1,001 on Wednesday.
Cases haven’t been this high since 1992 and threaten the status of measles as a disease
that has been eliminated.
“The Department of Health and Human Services has been deeply engaged in promoting
the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, amid concerning signs that there are pockets
of undervaccination around the country,” department Secretary Alex M. Azar II, J.D.,
said in a statement. “The 1,000th case of a preventable disease like measles is a troubling reminder
of how important that work is to the public health of the nation.”
About 90% of this year’s cases were unvaccinated. Misinformation about the measles,
mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine continues to spread online despite numerous studies
showing the vaccine is safe.
“We cannot say this enough: Vaccines are a safe and highly effective public health
tool that can prevent this disease and end the current outbreak,” Azar said. “The
measles vaccine is among the most-studied medical products we have and is given safely
to millions of children and adults each year.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Academy recommend children
receive the first routine dose of MMR vaccine at 12-15 months and the second dose
at 4-6 years.
The CDC has developed a toolkit at https://www.cdc.gov/measles/toolkit/healthcare-providers.html that includes resources to help pediatricians talk to families about MMR vaccines
as well as fact sheets they can share with parents about immunization schedules, potential
complications of measles and the risks of not vaccinating.
Measles can result in complications like pneumonia, brain damage and deafness and
can be fatal. This year, about 9% of people with measles have been hospitalized.
The AAP also has been working to decrease vaccine hesitancy. In March, AAP President
Kyle E. Yasuda, M.D., FAAP, sent letters to the CEOs of Google (which owns YouTube), Facebook (which owns WhatsApp and Instagram)
and Pinterest requesting that they partner with the Academy to make sure parents using
their platforms are seeing credible, science-based information.