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CDC report shows MMR vaccine uptake is below safe target for third year in a row – leaving 250,000 kindergarteners at risk of catching measles

Measles Threat Looms as MMR Vaccine Coverage Declines in the US

Recent reports highlight a concerning trend in the United States: MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine coverage has fallen below the recommended threshold for the third consecutive year. According to the CDC, there has been a further two percent drop in coverage from the 2019-2021 school year to the 2022-2023 school year. This decline means that roughly a quarter of a million kindergarteners across the country are now at risk of measles infection.

During the 2022–23 school year, MMR vaccine coverage stood at 93.1 percent, which is lower than the national target of 95 percent for measles coverage. Additionally, exemptions from school shots have reached record levels, surpassing five percent in ten states.

As of February 15, there have been reports of 20 measles cases across 11 jurisdictions in various states. One of the most recent outbreaks occurred in Florida, where six children have tested positive for measles. At a school in Broward County, concerns have been raised as 33 out of 1,067 students have not received either of the two doses of the MMR vaccine.

Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, emphasized the seriousness of the situation. He noted that the absence of travel history in some measles cases suggests local transmission, posing a significant risk to the community.

Measles is a highly contagious airborne virus that primarily affects children under five years old. However, it can be prevented by receiving two doses of the MMR vaccine, which have been highly effective in preventing more than 57 million deaths since 2000, according to the WHO and CDC.

Despite the vaccine’s effectiveness, measles vaccination rates have been declining, with more unvaccinated children entering schools. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation, potentially leading to millions missing vaccinations due to overwhelmed health systems.

In response to potential exposure to measles, it is crucial for unvaccinated individuals to receive an MMR shot as soon as possible. Administered within 72 hours of initial exposure, the shot may provide some protection against measles or reduce the severity of the illness.

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