U.S. measles cases in first five months of 2019 surpass total cases for any year since 1994

May 31, 2019

CDC is reporting 971 cases of measles in the United States thus far in 2019. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994, when 963 cases were reported for the entire year. CDC continues to work with affected state and local health departments to get ongoing outbreaks under control.

Outbreaks in New York City and Rockland County, New York have continued for nearly 7 months. If these outbreaks continue through summer and fall, the U.S. may lose its measles elimination status. That loss would be a huge blow for the nation and erase the hard work done by all levels of public health. The measles elimination goal, first announced in 1963 and accomplished in 2000, was a monumental task. Before widespread use of the measles vaccine, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the U.S., along with an estimated 400 to 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations.

Measles was eliminated in the U.S. for two main reasons:

  • Availability and widespread use of a safe and highly effective measles vaccine, and
  • Strong public health infrastructure to detect and contain measles

CDC encourages parents with questions about measles vaccine to consult with their child’s pediatrician, who know the children and community, and want to help parents better understand how vaccines can protect their children. Concerns based on misinformation about the vaccine safety and effectiveness, as well as disease severity, may lead parents to delay or refuse vaccines.

All parents want to make sure their children are healthy and are interested in information to protect them; ensuring that the information they are receiving to make health decisions for their children is accurate and credible.

Everyone six months and older should be protected against measles before traveling internationally.  Babies six to 11 months old need one dose of measles vaccine before traveling. Everyone 12 months and older needs two doses. International travelers unsure of their vaccination status should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling. 

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