Oct. 6, 2022 (St. Paul, MN) – The rising case count of measles in the Twin Cities is serving as another painful reminder that vaccine-preventable diseases can spread quickly through unvaccinated populations, particularly among the young and medically fragile.
Minnesota has already experienced a measles outbreak. In 2017, almost all of the 75 people infected with measles were unvaccinated children under the age of 10. The outbreak led to costly medical interventions and a significant investment of public health resources to fight the disease and contain its spread.
“We don’t want to see history repeating itself at the expense of Minnesota’s children. Measles is more than just an uncomfortable rash,” said Dr. Eileen Crespo, president of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measles is highly contagious, painful, and potentially life-threatening. For some children, measles can lead to pneumonia, lifelong brain damage, deafness, and death. The CDC reports that one dose of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine is 93 percent effective against measles and two doses of the MMR vaccine are 97 percent effective against measles.
In Minnesota, under-vaccination is not isolated to a single location, region or community. Several Minnesota communities and schools have high rates of unvaccinated children, putting them at high risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Childhood immunization rates continue to slip and have not yet regained the coverage rates of pre-pandemic years. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the percentage of two-year-olds who were not up-to-date on immunizations increased from 20 percent to 30 percent from 2019 to 2021.
Vaccinations have long been one of the safest and most effective prevention against the spread of infectious diseases such as measles, meningitis, or polio. Vaccines are the primary reason for decreased rates of those diseases. Childhood vaccinations are critical to the health and future wellbeing of our youngest Minnesotans and will continue to be a top priority for the state’s pediatrician community.
MNAAP, on behalf of over 1,000 of its members, asks Minnesota’s families and caregivers to help prevent the spread of measles in our state with up-to-date immunization coverage for their infants, children and teens.