Health

Measles threatens children as vaccinations drop due to Covid


A growing number of children around the world are vulnerable to measles as vaccination rates have fallen to the lowest levels since 2008, world health officials warned on Wednesday.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely disrupted routine immunization services, resulting in millions of children missing their measles shots, according to a report by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease. United States Control and Prevention.

About 81% of children worldwide received the first dose of the measles vaccine in 2021, compared to 86% in 2019 before the start of the Covid pandemic. That leaves 25 million children vulnerable to measles, according to the report.

Public health experts estimate that 95% of children should be vaccinated against measles to prevent outbreaks. The measles vaccine comes in two doses, but the first shot is the most important because it is 93% effective in preventing the disease.

Steady progress has been made towards measles elimination over the past 20 years. According to the report, deaths from measles fell by 83% globally, from 761,000 in 2000 to 128,000 in 2021, as vaccination coverage increased.

But CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and WHO Chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in separate statements on Wednesday expressed concern about the return of measles, as vaccination rates have been falling for two years now.

The United States officially eliminated measles more than 20 years ago, but travelers sometimes bring the virus into the country. This can cause epidemics if vaccination rates are too low in their communities, according to the CDC.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases known to man. It poses a serious health risk to children under 5, adults over 20, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

The virus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can linger in the air for up to two hours. Measles is so contagious that an infected person will pass it on to 90% of their close contacts who are unprotected, according to the CDC.

According to the CDC, one in five unvaccinated people who catch measles are hospitalized. One in 20 unvaccinated children who catch measles develop pneumonia, 3 in 1,000 develop brain swelling, and up to 3 in 1,000 will die of respiratory or neurological complications.

Symptoms begin with a high fever that can reach over 104 degrees, a cough, and a runny nose. White spots then appear inside the mouth and a rash of red spots breaks out all over the body.

The two-dose vaccine is 97% effective in preventing measles. The first dose is given at 1 year to 15 months of age, and the second dose is given between 4 and 6 years of age.

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