AAP Urges Parents to Vaccinate Children to Protect Against Measles
In a press release today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) responded to the measles outbreak that began at Disneyland in California, “urging parents, schools and communities to commit to protecting our nation’s infants, children, adolescents and adults with the most effective tool we have – vaccination.”
“A family vacation to an amusement park – or a trip to the grocery store, a football game or school – should not result in children becoming sickened by an almost 100 percent preventable disease,” Dr. Errol Alden, the group’s executive director, said in the written statement. “We are fortunate to have an incredibly effective tool that can prevent our children from suffering. That is so rare in medicine,” Alden said.
Seventy people have been infected in the outbreak, which has now spread from California to four other states and Mexico.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in an infected person’s nose and throat mucus and spreads through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes and a red rash that usually first appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. One or 2 people out of 1,000 who get measles, will die.
“Vaccines are one of the most important ways parents can protect their children from very real diseases that exist in our world,” Dr. Alden said. “The measles vaccine is safe and effective. The AAP urges parents to have their children immunized against measles, as well as other infectious diseases, and to talk with their child’s pediatrician if they have questions about any of their child’s recommended vaccines,”
The AAP, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend children receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at age 12-15 months, and again at 4-6 years. High immunization rates in a community will protect those who cannot be vaccinated, including infants under 12 months of age. These infants are at the highest risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death due to measles.
In the statement, Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, vice chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, says, “Delaying vaccination leaves children vulnerable to measles when it is most dangerous to their development, and it also affects the entire community. We see measles spreading most rapidly in communities with higher rates of delayed or missed vaccinations. Declining vaccination for your child puts other children at risk, including infants who are too young to be vaccinated, and children who are especially vulnerable due to certain medications they’re taking.”