June 07, 2019 04:16 pm News Staff – The CDC recorded 971 cases of measles in the United States in just the first five months of 2019 -- the most since 1994, when 963 cases were reported for the entire year.
That's according to a CDC news release issued May 30.
Outbreaks in New York City and Rockland County, N.Y., have continued for nearly eight months. And the CDC said 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 agency said in the release.
The goal of eliminating measles, first announced in 1966 and declared accomplished in 2000, was an enormous undertaking, the CDC said. Before widespread use of the measles vaccine, an estimated 3 million to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States, and the disease led to an estimated 400 to 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations.
To better arm family physicians and other medical professionals to fight the current epidemic, the CDC recently released a measles outbreak toolkit for health care professionals.
This resource includes materials for family physicians and their staff and to share with parents.
Resources for medical staff include guidance for talking with parents about vaccines for infants; tips for preparing to answer questions parents may ask about vaccines; fact sheets on topics including understanding thimerosal, mercury and vaccine safety; and a "You Call the Shots" module on the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
Resources for family physicians and staff to share with parents include a parent-friendly immunization schedule for children ages 0-6, and fact sheets on topics including the risks and responsibilities of choosing not to vaccinate children, and measles and the vaccine to prevent it. The resources also include an infographic on the severity of measles infection.
Finally, the CDC's new measles outbreak toolkit includes posters to print and display in clinics, including measles-specific "Superbaby: Power to Protect," "How Vaccines Strengthen Your Baby's Immune System" and "Stop Serious Childhood Diseases in Their Tracks."
"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," said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., in the release. "Again, I want to reassure parents that vaccines are safe; they do not cause autism. The greater danger is the disease the vaccination prevents."