(RxWiki News) Millions of children are at risk of contracting measles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That's because almost 40 million children around the world missed measles vaccine appointments in 2021, the agency said. That number represented a record high.
Vaccine coverage for measles — a highly contagious viral respiratory illness that can be extremely serious for small children — has been on the decline since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC said.
“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programs were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a press release. “Getting immunization programs back on track is absolutely critical. Behind every statistic in this report is a child at risk of a preventable disease.”
To achieve herd immunity, effectively stopping the virus from spreading, we need vaccine coverage of 95 percent or higher, according to the CDC. But in 2021, 25 million children missed their first dose of the vaccine. And 14.7 million missed their second dose.
That means only 71 percent of children are receiving their second dose of the measles vaccine, according to the CDC.
Meanwhile, an estimated 9 million cases of measles erupted around the world in 2021. And around 128,000 people died as a result.
While vaccine rates and risks vary by country and region, "measles anywhere is a threat everywhere, as the virus can quickly spread to multiple communities and across international borders," according to the CDC.
That's why health officials are calling for urgent global action and urging parents to ensure that their children are properly vaccinated.
Questions about measles or measles vaccines? Reach out to your healthcare provider.