Measles outbreak in New York suburb sparks a wake-up call for US public health, says GlobalData

Following the news on 26 March 2019 that a state of emergency had been declared in the Rockland County in New York, following 153 incidences of measles since October 2018,

James Mather, MChem, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on the public health crisis emerging in the US:

“The state of emergency declared in Rockland County is an unprecedented but desperate step in the US towards preventing further spread of measles. This crisis must act as a wake-up call and reenergize efforts to provide immunization against a disease which was declared eradicated in the US in 2000.

“Achieving this requires tackling pressing nationwide issues in childhood immunizations, notably; combating the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation, education about the importance of vaccines and logistical difficulties in providing sufficient protection to rural populations.

“The outbreak in Rockland County has occurred  despite MMR vaccination rates in New York State being amongst the highest in the US at 97.2%. The outbreak occurring in a state with exceptional vaccination rates highlights a major under recognized issue in vaccination programs, a disparity in the protection provided in large urban areas and that seen in smaller rural communities.

“Vaccination rates above 95% are acknowledged by the WHO as adequate to provide herd immunity against highly infectious diseases, but State or National statistics often fail to identify the demographic inconsistency between different communities and therefore many high risk regions may not be highlighted.”

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