As the world battles against the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of infants have also missed their vaccinations against measles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that more than 22 million infants missed their first dose of measles vaccination in 2020, which is the largest increase in two decades and may cause a massive measles outbreak.
Lack of Measles Vaccination in 2020
The CDC, together with the World Health Organization (WHO), warns about the risk of measles outbreaks mounting due to the lack of vaccination in 2020. They said that the lack of vaccination last year is three million more than in 2019, making it the largest increase in two decades, local news outlet WESH reported.
Pediatrics specialist Dr. Matthew Seibel said that measles is a very dangerous disease, noting that a two or three child child getting infected is irreversible.
He added that vaccine hesitancy also increased during the pandemic despite decades of experience with measles vaccines and hundreds of studies proving its safety and efficacy.
In 2020, about 26 countries saw a major measles outbreak and even an increased risk due to the return of international travelers. The CDC advises parents to use the opportunity of getting the COVID-19 vaccine to have their kids catch up on routine vaccinations as shots are now available to most children.
Unvaccinated Infants at Higher Risk of Getting Measles and Complications
According to Dr. Larry Simon of Blue Cross Blue Shield, some infants were not able to get their first dose of measles vaccine last year because parents were afraid to bring their child to the pediatrician or the parents themselves have contracted COVID-19.
As Fox 15 reported, unvaccinated infants are more prone to measles and its complications or even death although many parents are unaware of this or what happens when their child gets infected.
Dr. Simon added that the disease outbreak is linked to mask restrictions going away, so people are behaving more normally for the winter holiday season. As of November 10, CDC has recorded a total of 47 measles cases in the US.