In the first 4 months of 2019, there were over 750 cases of the measles across 23 states. That’s more cases than any year since the year 1994. But how did we get here from nearly no cases to over 750 cases?
In 1657, the measles was first documented in Boston, but cases have been recorded since the 9th century. By the 1960’s up to 4 million people in the United States alone each year. In 1963, the first measles vaccines were licensed in the United States but the vaccine was withdrawn from use because rather than preventing the measles it made the measles worse for whomever took the vaccine.
Finally in 1971, the MMR vaccine was introduced, protecting against the measles, mumps, and rubella and in 2000 the measles was declared eliminated in the United States through widespread vaccination.
But after the extensive use of the vaccine is the measles making a resurgence? In 2018, there were nearly 375 confirmed cases of the measles, mostly affecting Jewish communities in New York and New Jersey – this outbreak has continued into 2019 with over 450 confirmed cases in New York City alone and several hundred more elsewhere.
The measles may have been declared in the United States, travellers may still bring the disease from other countries into the U.S. and so far, all 2019 outbreaks have been caused by international travellers who brought the measles from other countries.
In 2019, the World Health Organization warned that hesitancy or refusal to vaccinate has already contributed to the global threat and recent resurgence of the measles worldwide. New York City ordered all residents to receive the vaccine or receive a $1000 fine; 21,284 doses were administered from this.
Rockland County began to offer free MMR vaccines to all residents and over 18,000 doses were administered and New York officials even banned unvaccinated children from public spaces though the ban was overturned due to the fact that the outbreak wasn’t severe enough yet.
Many people have called for major companies to respond to this rising threat of anti-vaccine hoaxes. “Pediatricians are working in our clinics and our communities, talking with families one-to-one about how important vaccines are to protect their children’s health.
But it’s no longer enough.” said Kyle E. Yasuda MD, FAAP, American Academy of Pediatrics President in a letter to Facebook, Google, & Pinterest. “The source of this trend is the degree to which medically inaccurate information about vaccines surface on the websites where many Americans get their information,” said Representative Adam Schiff in a letter to Facebook and Google.
So many major social media platforms have taken this anti-vaccine problem into their own hands. Facebook promised to take action against verified vaccine hoaxes, YouTube added a warning about “vaccine hesitancy” to all anti-vaxx videos, Pinterest replaced search results related to vaccines with an error message, and Amazon removed some controversial content, but failed to create any safeguards. Find out how you can help stop the measles and how others already are stopping the measles.