The Return of Measles: Unvaccinated Individuals Spreading the Virus and Threatening Elimination Status in the United States

Officials continue to push for measles vaccinations as cases increase

This year, the United States has seen a significant increase in measles cases, with at least 41 cases reported across 16 states. The rise in cases is being attributed to two main factors: infected travelers bringing the virus back from abroad and unvaccinated individuals spreading it within communities. Experts fear that if this trend continues, the country could see another surge in measles cases like the one seen in 2019, which threatened its elimination status.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine and infectious disease physician at the University of California in San Francisco, warns that the number of cases could continue to rise in the coming months. Measles symptoms typically appear 10 to 14 days after exposure and include a runny nose, coughing, red and watery eyes, small white spots inside the cheeks, and rashes. Unvaccinated individuals who contract measles have a 1 in 5 chance of being hospitalized, and the virus can lead to severe complications such as brain swelling, pneumonia, and death.

Health officials are working to prepare doctors for an increase in measles cases and are urging parents to ensure their children are vaccinated. To achieve “herd immunity” against measles, at least 95% of the population must be vaccinated. The measles vaccine has been in use since the 1960s and is administered in two doses. The first dose is given between 12 and 15 months old, with the second dose administered between 4 and 6 years old. The vaccine is 97% effective in protecting against measles and provides lifelong immunity.

As health officials stress the importance of vaccination to prevent the spread of the virus and protect vulnerable individuals

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