In 2000, the United States successfully eradicated measles. Nineteen years later, the deadly disease is making a comeback. Only four months into the new year, there have already been 695 reported measles cases in this country. By way of comparison, prior to this year, 2014 had the unfortunate distinction of having the most confirmed measles cases with 667 for the entire year. If my math is correct, this country is on track to top 2,000 measles cases in 2019.
The most frustrating aspect of this news is that a solution is available. Measles vaccines have been demonstrated to be safe time and time again, yet conspiracy theorists persist in endangering the lives of their children and, by extension, the lives of their community. In a statement posted on the HHS website, U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar said:
The United States is seeing a resurgence of measles, a disease that had once been effectively eliminated from our country. And today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that ongoing measles outbreaks in 22 states has led to the highest number of cases reported nationwide since the disease was declared eliminated in this country in 2000. Measles is not a harmless childhood illness, but a highly contagious, potentially life-threatening disease. We have the ability to safely protect our children and our communities. Vaccines are a safe, highly effective public health solution that can prevent this disease. The measles vaccines are among the most extensively studied medical products we have, and their safety has been firmly established over many years in some of the largest vaccine studies ever undertaken.
Thankfully, as of now, no deaths have been reported in connection with the current measles outbreak. If this trend continues, though, it won’t be long before children will begin dying of a disease we once eradicated in this country. Vaccinate your kids, parents.