Measles, risk of outbreaks due to skipped vaccines during the pandemic

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The Covid pandemic has diverted resources and attention from other diseases, such as measles. Just think that, in 2020, more than 22 million children worldwide have lost their first dose of the measles vaccine, as reported by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Americans. This is 3 million more children than those who missed the recommended doses in 2019.

Measles, however, remains an ad disease very high index of contagiousness (97-98%): High vaccination rates are needed to prevent outbreaks. To achieve herd immunity, approximately 95% of the population must be vaccinated.

The decrease in vaccinations, according to Elena Chiappini, an expert in pediatric infectious diseases at Meyer, is also due to “the parents’ fear of attending vaccination centers”. In addition to measles vaccination coverage, for the first time in 28 years, that for diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis dropped, which is considered one of the markers of coverage globally.

Sten Vermund, president of the Yale School of Public Health, and Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, they explain that “measles, among the respiratory viruses, is more serious than most of the others. It has a higher mortality and complication rate and, for these reasons alone, we are alarmed. But the second worrying element is that it is more contagious than other respiratory viruses, including coronavirus».

Whenever there is still unjustly credited fake news that autism is caused by the measles vaccine, and parents stop vaccinating children, cases rise again, and it happens quickly. “It is extremely easy to reintroduce measles and disseminate it ”, the experts confirm. “It is extraordinarily transmissible.” So far, “due to the social distancing imposed by the Covid pandemic, we have limited these outbreaks a bit. But now, that the children go back to school and the communities come together again “, the risk of measles outbreaks is also growing.

It has already happened with Ebola. In West Africa, during the period of the epidemic, there were more infant deaths caused by discontinuing measles vaccination than by Ebola itself.

In addition, research has also shown that when measles affects people, the ability to enhance immune memory against other pathogens decreases. And this effect lasts for a few years. If new hearths of measles are rekindled, then, as the two experts report, there is a risk that communities will be affected by the disease and then, also, by other infections.

Other stories of Vanity Fair that might interest you:

Measles, more 230% of cases per year, “Vaccinate your children”


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