EVANSTON — The number of measles cases in the United States has risen to 839, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the highest year-to-date since the disease was declared eliminated nearly 20 years ago. Many of this year’s cases stem from large outbreaks in Washington state and New York, though cases have been reported in the Intermountain West, including in Colorado and Nevada.
Nearly all of this year’s cases involved children who weren’t vaccinated against the disease as some parents resist vaccination for religious reasons or out of fear of side effects. The “anti-vaxxer” movement is growing nationally, with nearby Salt Lake and Utah counties considered hotspots for the movement.
Utah has reported 13 cases of mumps, which is included in the same vaccine as measles.
As the debate nationally and locally continues around the importance of vaccines, Uinta Medical Group Pediatricians Alan Brown, MD, and Bird Gilmartin, MD, are focused on ensuring the overall health and wellness of Uinta County through education on this important topic.
“Overwhelming scientific evidence supports the safety and efficacy of routine childhood immunizations,” says Dr. Brown. “In my opinion, vaccines are the single greatest medical advancement since clean water.” Vaccines save 33,000 lives and prevent 14 million cases of disease each year.
“The vast majority of parents are supportive of protecting their kids with vaccines. For those that have concerns, we discuss the immense benefits of protecting your children against once-deadly contagious diseases like smallpox, polio, and measles with the added assurance that 45-plus scientific studies involving hundreds of thousands of children confirm there is no link between autism and vaccination,” Dr. Bird adds.
It is important to note that it is recommended certain populations such as young infants and the immunocompromised do not receive certain vaccinations. These individuals must rely on the rest of the population to keep diseases from spreading with a phenomenon called Herd Immunity Protection. When vaccination rates drop, these children lose their protection.
“As we look at the national trends, it is only a matter of time until measles hits closer to home,” conclude Drs. Brown and Gilmartin. “Vaccinations are the single best thing parents can do to protect their children.”
According to the Wyoming Department of Health, Wyoming’s vaccination rate for calendar year 2018 to meet the 2-dose MMR (commonly known as the measles vaccine) for 13-17 years old was 74 percent. This is the coverage rate from the Wyoming Immunization Registry, which uses the same age range as the National Immunization Survey. This survey does not account for every Wyoming resident. Children who receive care outside the state, for example, are not counted, but it is the best estimate available.