Before the vaccine, the U.S. experienced approximately 3 to 4 million cases a year with approximately 500 annual deaths. In the 80’s, several outbreaks occurred in college campuses and sports arenas – thus changing the requirements for college entry to include vaccination. The 1991 measles outbreak in Philadelphia claimed 9 lives amongst the 1400 cases – the ratio of case fatalities was 1.2% even with modern medicine/supportive care available.
With the advent of the measles vaccine in 1960 there was a marked reduction in cases and in 2000 Measles was declared “eliminated” from the US – so although now not endemic, the virus does sporadically appear within the US – and with the advent of the anti-vaccine movement, more cases have been described – especially over the last 3-4 years.
The original “study” linking measles and autism has been completely refuted, and several long term well controlled studies have disconnected this link, for good. That being said, the notion that MMR is linked to autism still lives - A couple of years ago outbreaks in Manhattan forced public schools to exclude students who were unimmunized if they had a family member with measles – a case that went to court. Several private schools in affluent areas of California and Washington state have vaccine rates that are as low as the Sudan – because parents can sign an exemption from vaccination by law.
Board certified pediatrician Dr. JJ Levenstein, MD, FAAP Take parenting classes instructed by Dr. Levenstein online by visiting www.momassembly.com. To learn more about parents' concerns with kids go to her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CallingDoctorJJ .
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