As if the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t bad enough, we now have to worry about other diseases coming back. A new study from Columbia University found that there could be a major outbreak of measles in New York City.
The researchers looked at the most recent measles outbreak which took place between 2018 and 2019. The outbreak was due to a delay in vaccinations and parents choosing to have their unvaccinated children participate in “measles parties.” Now amidst dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, measles vaccinations have dropped significantly (63% among children and a little over 90% for children over 2-years-old.)’
The team predicts that measles will once again surge because vaccinations have not been prioritized and when social distancing guidelines let up, more children will be exposed. “At the moment, chances of an immediate measles outbreak in the City remain low thanks to the recent vaccination campaigns and current social distancing practice. But as the number of unvaccinated children increases and contact resumes, there would be a much greater risk of disease spread. ” study author Wan Yang, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said in a release.
In order to curb the 2018-2019 outbreak the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene ordered mandatory vaccines for the hot zone areas which helped to subside it. “These findings demonstrate the rippling effects of vaccine hesitancy to all susceptible age groups, particularly to infants too young to receive their first dose of MMR vaccine,” Yang says. “Administration of the first dose of the routine MMR vaccine earlier than the current guideline of 1 year may be needed to protect infants if high levels of vaccine hesitancy persist.”