Progress stalled on eliminating measles

Nov. 11, 2021

While reported measles cases have fallen compared to previous years, progress toward measles elimination continues to decline and the risk of outbreaks is mounting, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was described in a news release.

During 2020, more than 22 million infants missed their first dose of measles vaccine — 3 million more than in 2019, marking the largest increase in two decades. And only 70% of children received their second dose measles vaccine, well below the 95% coverage needed to protect communities from the spread of the measles virus, the organizations said.

Compared with the previous year, reported measles cases decreased by more than 80% in 2020.

However, measles surveillance also deteriorated with the lowest number of specimens sent for laboratory testing in over a decade.

Major measles outbreaks occurred in 26 countries and accounted for 84% of all reported cases in 2020.

Adding to the worsening of immunity gaps worldwide, 24 measles vaccination campaigns in 23 countries, originally planned for 2020, were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic — leaving more than 93 million people at risk for the disease.

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