The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that progress is being lost in providing herd immunity against measles.
In data released Wednesday, the organizations said that a record high 40 million children worldwide missed a measles dose in 2021. Of those, 25 million missed their first dose while about 14.7 million missed their second.
To achieve herd immunity against measles, 95% of children need to be immunized. The WHO and CDC say that 81% of children have gotten a single dose of the vaccine, while 71% have gotten both doses. The organizations say that global measles vaccine coverage is at its lowest level since 2008.
“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 WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Getting immunization programs back on track is absolutely critical.
In 2021, there were an estimated 9 million cases of measles resulting in 128,000 deaths.
According to the CDC, measles causes the following symptoms:
- Brain Damage
- Premature birth or low-birthweight baby (in unvaccinated pregnant women who get measles during pregnancy)
- Measles infection leads to loss of immunity to other deadly diseases
From 2010 through 2021, U.S. vaccination rates largely held steady for children at 24 months. As of 2021, 90.8% of children were vaccinated against measles.