According to a study emphasizing on the risks of parents’ refusal to vaccinate their children, a 5 percent decrease in measles vaccination could cause three times increase in the number of kids who get infected with the measles virus in the U.S.
Researchers pointed out in JAMA Pediatrics that about 93 percent of children between the ages of 2 to 11 years get vaccinated against measles. If there be a drop in the percentage down to 88 percent, there is the possibility that measles cases would increase by 150 yearly. And this will cost about $2.1 million in health programs, not including medical bills.
The research co-author, Nathan Lo of Standford University School of Medicine in California said that in the face of parents’ decisions to avert vaccinations for their kids, his research team wanted to ascertain the effect of small reductions in vaccinations on general measles cases.
In an email, Lo said that they discovered that small decline in overall protection could result in more outbreaks of measles.
What is measles?
Measles is a contagious virus that may be severe and in some cases lead to death. While it begins with fever, it may last for some days with an emanating cough, pink eye, and runny nose symptoms. Measles comes with rashes on the face and neck which spreads down to the body with time. In some severe cases, encephalitis and pneumonia can develop.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people infected with the measles virus can spread it four days before and after the appearance of the rashes.
Experts take on the risks of neglecting vaccination
Lo emphasized that measles is highly contagious. As such, about 95% of the people should be vaccinated against the virus to achieve herd immunity. He pointed out that the level of vaccination in the nation is low, causing a high possibility of outbreaks.
A researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Maimuna Majumder said that outbreaks also happen in communities, and there’s the need to go deeper as regards vaccination rates and not just to deal with national statistics.
In an email, Majumder said that recent research in California discovered a lower county-level measles vaccination of about 70%, whereas the statewide statistics show 90%.
Lo, and his co-author, Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston only researched on the infection rates and measles vaccination for children between ages 2 and 11. However, if the study were to encompass teens, infants, and adults, the estimated number of such cases and its related costs would go high. If babies cannot be vaccinated against measles, they would be prone to the infection if an older sibling gets infected.
According to Dr. George Rutherford who heads the infectious disease epidemiology department at the University of California, San Francisco, only a few persons need to avert the vaccination because of medical reasons. Dr. Rutherford pointed out that pregnant women, people with an allergy for the vaccination and those with altered immune system states such as AIDS are not advised to go for the vaccination.
He added that a decline in the number of vaccinations would expose people who can’t get the vaccination for the infection. When the levels of immunization drop, there are chances of massive outbreaks.