With this news going around, you might have heard about it too: we are facing the resurgence of measles worldwide! Yes, sadly, it is happening all over again for real, and this time’s count is the greatest since its elimination in 2000. The next question that pops would be: why, though? Well, we are all aware that the measles vaccination campaigns have been halted worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that, people, is exactly the cause of this rebirth. The under-vaccination of millions of children for measles has certainly blown up on our faces with this imminent global threat, says the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to their report, approximately 25 million children missed their first dose of the measles vaccine in 2021, and another 15 million children missed their second dose. A further dig into this topic…
1. Measles – What Is It?
Measles is a highly contagious infection that predominantly affects tiny humans. It is caused by the rubeola virus, one virus that many of us are well aware of. This virus spends no sweat with spreading itself to others, as one can contract this virus through direct physical contact with an infected person or by coming into contact with an infected person’s sneeze or cough. Not to forget, this virus can linger in a particular space for up to two hours after an infected person coughs or sneezes, unlike other viruses that are too big to be suspended in the air and need direct contact to spread infection. Such a scary introduction, with its easy spread and nature of infecting our tiny beings, right?
2. The “You Have Got Measles” Signboards
Measles’ typical feature is that it causes a rash that frequently starts around the ears and moves down the rest of the body. It initially appears as red spots that splotch together before coalescing into a mass. Some more features one might notice are coughing, light sensitivity, sneezing, Koplik’s spots, and tiny gray or white spots in the mouth. Fever, runny nose, and conjunctivitis can come along as add-ons too. This virus is too rash – one thing we all will definitely agree on!
3. Why Is It on the Rise Now?
The WHO and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) describe the current situation for measles outbreaks as “a perfect storm.” This tagline has resulted due to various factors, including – the disruptions brought on by the pandemic, growing access disparities for vaccines, and the divergence of funds from routine immunization – they all fairly play a part. There are currently far too many children without access to vaccines for diseases like measles and multiple others that can be prevented if vaccinated; take notes. Another probable cause could be the relaxed social distancing protocols in many communities. This has increased the likelihood of the measles virus spreading quickly among unprotected communities.
4. How Are We to Prevent This?
Fortunately, the condition is preventable as we have a vaccine against it called – the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine; thank goodness! It is safe and effective 97 % of the time, mind you, if taken per schedule! The vaccine should be administered in two doses: the first between 12 to 15 months and the second between four to six years of age. It is also advised that adults who lack immunity receive one dose of the MMR vaccine. This is crucial for anyone living close to or traveling through the outbreak.
Building stronger health systems and ensuring every child has access to the routine vaccinations they require to be healthy are imperative as we recover from the pandemic. So get yourself and your little ones vaccinated. Yet another time, we can overcome this!