The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week that the number of measles cases in the United States have reached levels unseen since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000 and poses a real threat of a country-wide endemic.
In all, 695 cases have spread across 22 states, something the CDC said highlights gaps in public health education and access alike.
Vaccines, they remind the public, are essential to protection at both the mass and individual level, as sufficient community coverage can protect even those who cannot be vaccinated, thanks to the phenomenon known as herd immunity. Measles is a deadly, highly contagious disease that can be stopped in its tracks through vaccination, so it should not be spreading.
Yet recent years have seen among certain corners of the public a hesitancy towards vaccine use, and the CDC also highlights inadequate access to health services. Combined, they have decreased vaccine counts in the United States, at the same time that measles cases are being imported from foreign travel. Globally, the disease has increased its numbers by around 300 percent since last year.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America urges that exemptions for CDC immunization requirements only be provided in cases where such could harm a patient.