April 21, 2017 (St. Paul, MN) – As the number of measles cases increases among young children in Hennepin County, more than 1,000 Minnesota pediatricians are reminding parents and caregivers about vaccine safety and efficacy and stressing the importance of up-to-date vaccinations.
Measles is one of the most contagious viruses on earth and can be life-threatening for some people. Thanks to widespread vaccinations, the disease no longer occurs naturally in the United States, but outbreaks can occur when unvaccinated people to travel to and from countries where measles is still prevalent, and then expose people in schools and communities with low vaccination rates.
Left untreated, measles can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis and even death. Studies have shown that getting the measles vaccine is much safer than getting the measles infection.
There is no cure for measles – only prevention through immunization. Before the Measles, Mumps & Rubella vaccine was available, nearly everyone in the United States contracted the disease, and hundreds died each year. Decades of data and studies prove that vaccines are extremely effective and safe.
“Imagine that a highly contagious, potentially deadly disease is spreading through your community and you have a 90 percent chance of contracting it because you aren’t protected,” said Dr. Dawn Martin, co-chair of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (MNAAP) immunization work group. “That disease is measles, and we are currently in the midst of an outbreak. The health and safety of our community relies on everyone getting vaccinated.”
“Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are putting more than their own children at risk,” said MNAAP President Dr. Andrew Kiragu. “Family members, friends and neighbors who are too young or too weak to be immunized can contract the disease and jeopardize their health. Studies have shown an increased risk of disease when there is clustering of unvaccinated children.”
Parents and caregivers are urged to ensure their child’s vaccinations are up to date and contact their health care provider with questions. Vaccines are critical to keeping all children healthy.
With more than 1,000 pediatrician members, MNAAP is committed to improving the health, safety and wellbeing of children and teens in Minnesota. For more information, visit www.mnaap.org