About 9 million children in the United States are exposed to the risk of getting measles because they are not up to date with their vaccines, or because they have never been vaccinated against measles.
Currently, in the United States measles is prevented from spreading widely because most people are vaccinated against it. However, if the vaccine rates start dropping, a measles outbreak may occur.
“We don’t have a very wide buffer before these population-immunity estimates start dipping below the levels needed to prevent wide transmission of the virus,” stated Robert Bednarczyk, an assistant professor of global health at Emory University in Atlanta, who presented his findings at the IDWeek 2015.
According to him many parents do not want to vaccinate their children, because they are concerned about the safety of the vaccine, but Bednarczyk says that the vaccine is very safe (for children who do not suffer from medical conditions that prevent vaccination).
Children have to be vaccinated when they are 12 to 15 months old, and when they are 4 to 6 years old, in order for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to work well.
In the study, researchers looked at vaccination data from 2013 to 2014, for children living in the United States. The results showed that about 8.7 million U.S. children or about 12.5 percent were not entirely protected against the disease.
Researchers found that about 25 percent of the children ages three or younger were exposed to the risk of getting measles. Furthermore, about 5 percent of the teenagers ages 17 have never received an MMR vaccine.
There are some cases in which children cannot be vaccinated. For instance, if they are too young (less than 1 year old) they cannot receive the MMR vaccine. Also, those who suffer from immune system conditions cannot be vaccinated. About 2 million children in the United States cannot receive the vaccine because they are younger than one year of age.
Researchers say that 92 to 94 percent of the population has to be vaccinated against measles to prevent on outbreak of the disease.
Almost 33 percent of the children who are diagnosed with measles have to be hospitalised. One of the reasons why measles is extremely dangerous is because it can cause brain inflammation and pneumonia.
This year about 189 cases of measles have been detected in 18 U.S. states so far.
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