It’s hard to avoid the alarming reports of measles outbreaks in the United States and worldwide. Vaccines have been proven to prevent the spread of measles; the MMR (measles- mumps-rubella) vaccine, which needs to be administered twice to children, has an effectiveness rate of 97%. Thanks to an effective vaccination program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared measles eliminated in the United States in 2000.
Nineteen years later, however, measles cases are back are on the rise. The staggering amount of false information about vaccine safety has led to outbreaks of this preventable disease, particularly among vulnerable populations. Measles kills roughly 2 in 1,000 cases and leads to pneumonia in about 6% of cases. At present, there are 555 confirmed cases of measles this year alone in 20 states, as well as a 300% increase in measles worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
The following news items are just a handful of the hundred of measles-related stories reported in Alaska’s historic newspapers. A commonality among these stories are reports of children and indigenous populations disproportionately affected by the virus. In 1900, the measles virus devastated Yup’ik, Iñupiat, and Iñupiaq Alaska Native populations.
For everyone’s sake, make sure your children are up-to-date on vaccinations.
Let’s leave measles in the past.