Vaccine coverage high in U.S., but measles outbreaks a concern: CDC

September 13, 2013 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter
Vaccine coverage high in U.S., but measles outbreaks a concern: CDC
159 cases reported so far this year in unvaccinated people.

(HealthDay)—Vaccination rates among America's children remain high, despite a serious resurgence of measles among unvaccinated children and adults, health officials reported Thursday.

According to the 2012 National Immunization Survey, vaccination for many diseases remains at or above 90 percent among aged 19 months to 35 months, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

"The vast majority of parents are vaccinating their children against potentially serious diseases," Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a noon press briefing Thursday.

"The high we are seeing explains why most vaccine-preventable diseases are at record-low levels," she said.

As of Aug. 24, however, the CDC knew of 159 cases of this year, Schuchat said. "That's the second largest number of measles cases we've had in this country since measles was eliminated in 2000," she added.

Three outbreaks account for most of this year's cases—65 cases in New York (mostly in New York City), 23 in North Carolina and 20 in Texas. The highly contagious viral disease has been spotted in 16 states, affecting newborns through senior citizens. Thirty-six percent of patients were younger than 5 years, and 11 percent younger than 1 year—too young to be vaccinated. No deaths have been reported this year, Schuchat said.

Most cases were among unvaccinated people or those whose vaccination status was unknown.

According to the new data, which was published Sept. 13 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the vaccination rate among children born between 2009 and May 2011 for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) was nearly 91 percent; for polio, about 93 percent; and for hepatitis B and varicella/chickenpox, about 90 percent.

Coverage was lower for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP), at 83 percent; the full series of Haemophilus influenzae (Hib), at 81 percent; and four doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), at less than 82 percent.

Only 53 percent of children were vaccinated against hepatitis A and just 69 percent had the rotavirus vaccine, according to the data.

Schuchat said PCV and DTaP booster shots are essential at age 2, and far too few children get them. DTaP protects against whooping cough.

"[Still], the percentage of children who get no vaccines remains low," Schuchat said. "Only 0.8 percent of children in the survey had received no vaccines at all."

Among the unvaccinated, 79 percent had philosophical objections to the vaccine. Typically, these objections concern fears about vaccine safety or adherence to religious beliefs. Theories that vaccines can lead to autism, however, have been widely discounted by scientists.

"Clusters of people with like-minded beliefs leading them to forgo vaccines can be susceptible to outbreaks when measles virus is imported," Schuchat said.

The Vaccines for Children Program, launched in 1993 to rectify a crisis of missed opportunities, makes vaccines available to most children and is credited with the high rates of vaccine coverage among America's children.

Today's local measles outbreaks represent a very different dynamic, Schuchat said. "Instead of our system missing opportunities to vaccinate young children, in some communities, people have been rejecting opportunities to be vaccinated," she said.

The national measles outbreak of 1989 to '91 that led to the creation of the Vaccines for Children Program was deadly. "During those years, about 55,000 cases of measles were reported in the United States, and 123 people died from measles," Schuchat said. "Hardest hit were unvaccinated preschool-aged children."

The current measles outbreaks aren't at the crisis level of 1989, but that could change quickly, Schuchat said.

Measles is common around the world, and continues to be imported to the United States, posing a threat to unvaccinated people. "All of the cases of measles reported in the United States in 2013 were associated with importations from other countries," Schuchat said. "Half of these cases originated from Europe."

The CDC recommends that children get a measles/mumps/rubella vaccine at 12 months and again at 4 to 6 years of age.

Explore further: US measles tally already among worst in 15 years

More information: For more information on vaccines, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related Stories

US measles tally already among worst in 15 years

September 12, 2013
(AP)—Health officials say 2013 already is one of the worst years for measles in more than 15 years.

Kindergarten vaccines close to target levels: CDC

August 23, 2012
(HealthDay)—Most kindergarten children in the United States are up to date on their vaccinations, a new government report finds.

Measles deaths fall by over 70% in last decade, WHO reports

January 17, 2013
The global number of measles deaths dropped by 71 percent between 2000 and 2011 largely thanks to a boost in vaccination efforts, the UN World Health Organisation said Thursday.

Man dies as UK measles epidemic spreads

April 19, 2013
U.K. authorities say a 25-year-old man is suspected to have died from measles as an epidemic continues to sweep across south Wales.

Texas megachurch linked to 21 measles cases

August 27, 2013
At least 21 cases of the measles have been linked to a North Texas megachurch where an official says they have been trying to contain the outbreak by hosting vaccination clinics.

Measles surges in UK years after flawed research (Update)

May 20, 2013
More than a decade ago, British parents refused to give measles shots to at least a million children because of now discredited research that linked the vaccine to autism. Now, health officials are scrambling to catch up ...

Recommended for you

Research examines lung cell turnover as risk factor and target for treatment of influenza pneumonia

July 24, 2017
Influenza is a recurring global health threat that, according to the World Health Organization, is responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths every year, most due to influenza pneumonia, or viral pneumonia. Infection with ...

Scientists propose novel therapy to lessen risk of obesity-linked disease

July 24, 2017
With obesity related illnesses a global pandemic, researchers propose in the Journal of Clinical Investigation using a blood thinner to target molecular drivers of chronic metabolic inflammation in people eating high-fat ...

Raccoon roundworm—a hidden human parasite?

July 24, 2017
The raccoon that topples your trashcan and pillages your garden may leave more than just a mess. More likely than not, it also contaminates your yard with parasites—most notably, raccoon roundworms (Baylisascaris procyonis).

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.