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Measles: a harbinger of herd immunity concerns

Measles: a harbinger of herd immunity concerns


Measles is on the rise around the world, with cases reported in several U.S. states, and the effectiveness of childhood vaccination is really becoming clear.

And that's why Connecticut is in a better position than most states to avoid a major outbreak, say pediatric infectious disease experts at University Health and the Connecticut Children's Bureau.

Measles, one of the world's most contagious diseases, was declared eliminated from the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2000.

Dr. Melissa Held portrait white coatDr. Melissa Held portrait white coat
Dr. Melissa Held is a professor of pediatric infectious diseases and senior associate dean for medical student education at the UW School of Medicine. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Photo)

“Although measles has not been eradicated, it is very well controlled in many parts of the world due to the success of various vaccination campaigns.” Dr. Melissa Held, Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University School of Medicine. “We are hearing this topic again due to a variety of factors, including suboptimal vaccination rates, vaccine hesitancy, international travel, and importation of the virus.”

Held said increases in measles are typically caused by more travelers contracting measles abroad and bringing it into the United States, and/or from it spreading in the United States in areas with high concentrations of unvaccinated people. It states that However, the recent cases in our country are alarming given the broader outbreak occurring globally.

Another reason for concern is that the proportion of young children completing the recommended vaccination schedule has declined since the pandemic, allowing communities to reach the herd immunity target vaccination level of 95%. Held said it is below.

“High vaccination rates are essential to achieving herd immunity, which protects those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or health reasons or because they are young.” says Held. “Vaccinations not only protect your child and yourself from these diseases, but also protect those around you who are not old enough to receive vaccinations (infants) and those with weakened immune systems.”

The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is approximately 93% effective against measles after a single dose (usually given around 12 to 15 months of age) and 97% if given as a booster, usually between the ages of 4 and 6 years. Gain immunity.

Vaccines are perhaps the most important modern medical miracle of our time.
— Dr. Melissa Held

The World Health Organization says measles is highly transmissible and can act as an early warning system by highlighting gaps in immunity within a population.

According to the latest available data on vaccination rates in the state, the state has one of the highest vaccination rates among major states, with more than 97% of kindergarteners receiving the required MMR vaccine in the 2022-23 school year. is recieving.

“Connecticut tends to do much better than the rest of the country, not just with the MMR vaccine but with all other vaccines,” Held said. “Unfortunately, the national average coverage rate is below the ideal 95% threshold, increasing the risk of spread in many states.”

See the CDC's current recommendations for childhood and adolescent immunizations.

Who is the organizer? UConn Senior Associate Dean for Medical Student Education He also sees inpatients at Connecticut Children's Hospital, and urges parents who are hesitant to follow the recommended immunization schedule for their children to share their concerns with their pediatrician and try to drown out the noise. ing.

“Look to trusted sources like the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The internet is full of scientifically incorrect misinformation and random opinions,” says Held. “Vaccines are perhaps the most important modern medical miracle of our time. The reason we don't have to worry about our children and families getting sick or dying from these diseases is because we have highly effective vaccines.” It’s from.”




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