It’s the biggest U.S. measles outbreak in 15 years — and it’s being blamed on parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids. So far, 214 kids have come down with measles — of those, 86% haven’t been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown, according to the CDC. Another 13% of the children were too young to have been vaccinated.
The MMR vaccine which protects against measles as well as mumps and rubella is indicated for infants between the ages of 12 to 15 months, with a second dosage between the ages of 4 and 6.
The outbreak is the latest case highlighting the dangers of the growing movement among some parents to eschew vaccinations over perceived health risks.
Before a measles vaccine was available, about 48,000 patients were hospitalized with it each year. Of those, about 1,000 were permanently disabled and 500 died, according to the CDC.
It’s believed the initial infection started among people who recently traveled overseas to areas with lower vaccination rates.
Health officials reminded parents that the MMR vaccine has been proven safe and effective and that the decision not to vaccinate affects the entire community.
“Your child might get measles and do well. But if you are the one who brings measles back into the community and your child infects someone else in the classroom who can’t be vaccinated because of being immunocompromised, you might be responsible for the death of another child or an infant who can’t be vaccinated,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah and spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.