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Measles, Polio, and Scarlet Fever Cases on the Rise: Why Aren’t Kids Getting Vaccinated?

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Measles, Polio, and Scarlet Fever Cases on the Rise: Why Aren’t Kids Getting Vaccinated?

2019-12-10 11:09:01

By Chanel Adams   Image source: U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Matthew Lotz

Measles, polio, and scarlet fever are on the rise. However, not enough kids are getting vaccinated. It’s even getting harder for kids to get the flu shot. Now a new study found that young children who travel abroad aren’t getting the measles vaccines they need. The study published on Monday, Dec. 9 in JAMA Pediatrics found that more children are going to be exposed to measles when traveling abroad than they do in the U.S.

Global cases of the virus have increased steadily in years. Most children in the U.S. aren’t expected to receive the vaccination until the age of 4. That means young kids traveling abroad may need the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, sooner rather than later. According to the CDC, kids should get two doses of the MMR vaccine, one on the child’s first birthday, and the second between the ages of 4 and 6. But the recommendations have since changed when unvaccinated kids travel internationally, increase the risk for measles exposure.

Due to the change, the CDC recommends that children over 6 months of age should get an MMR vaccine in addition to the two recommended doses for that added boost of immunity. Children over one years of age should also get two doses before traveling abroad, as long as those vaccinations are spaced out within a month. Cases of measles have increased in recent years, especially in areas with low vaccination rates. The World Health Organization reported that over 14,000 people died from measles in 2018.

Most of the deaths were among children under age 5. Babies are more at risk for contracting the contagious virus and having complications such as encephalitis, pneumonia, and brain damage. The MMR vaccine is reported to be safe and effective. One dose can provide 93% protection against measles. The second dose increases immunity by 97%.

This report comes after Malaysia has received its first polio case in 27 years, according to the News Observer. The country began a vaccination campaign in the rural town of Borneo Island after a 3-month-old boy was confirmed to have the virus. The infant who’s from the Tuaran town in Sabah state tested positive for Type 1 polio virus on Friday, Dec. 6. He was rushed to the hospital with fever and muscle weakness. The boy is currently on respiratory support but is in stable condition, according to Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad.

Malaysia is the second reported country to have a polio case after an outbreak occurred in the Philippines back in September. According to the World Health Organization, polio remains to be an endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Vaccinations have increased in the infant boy’s home, following a report that 25 out of 204 children, between the ages of 2 months and 15 years, were not vaccinated against polio. Tests have also been conducted on the infant and those close to him. The water samplings from six sewage treatment plants revealed no presence of wild polio virus or vaccine-derived strains.

Over in the UK, there are fears over an apparent scarlet fever outbreak as hundreds of children have come down with rashes. Scarlet fever is one of the most highly transmittable infections in the world and it often infects children. In a report via the Daily Mirror, hundreds of scarlet fever cases have been on the rise in England and Wales. While medical professionals claim this is a mild case that can be treated with antibiotics, it’s still highly contagious. Residents are asked to get in touch with their doctor if they or someone they know may have scarlet fever.

Common symptoms of scarlet fever include a rash on the chest or stomach, and symptoms similar to the flu. Some may also suffer from a sore throat. In addition, a white coating may appear on the tongue and the neck glands may swell. Some cases have reported inflammation on the tongue. Flushed cheeks are another sign of the virus. The rash is red or pink in color but can be hard to see on dark-skinned individuals. Individuals who are infected often say the rash feels like sandpaper.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to protect against scarlet fever. Prevention methods include frequent handwashing, no sharing of personal items, and staying away from others while sick. The disease can be easily treated with antibiotics, which also prevents complications. When treated, the outcomes of scarlet fever are generally good.

There’s no denying that cases of these highly contagious illnesses have increased in some of the lowest vaccination areas. Public health officials in the U.S. are trying to target parents of kindergarteners. The CDC says that a rate of 95% is high enough to offer “herd protection” for those who are unable to get vaccinated due to health issues or organ transplants.

There are two reasons why children aren’t getting vaccinated. The first reason is that most states make it hard for children to get something as simple as the flu shot. That’s because there are restrictions based on the child’s age. It makes it difficult for children to get vaccinated in pharmacies, according to a CNN report.

There are also concerns about anti-vaccine groups who claim they’re being “vaccine risk aware.” The anti-vaccine group called “Crazymothers” have asked the media to call them “vaccine risk aware” rather than anti-vaxxers. However, these mothers have nothing to be worried about since vaccines are safe and effective, and the chance of such side effects are rare. The biggest risks to be aware of are the viruses that are spreading and not the ones associated with the vaccinations.

One reason to vaccinate is simply because it’s safe. Another reason for vaccinating your child against just one virus is that it can increase their immunity against other viruses. Unvaccinated children are placing others at risk. And the fewer kids who get vaccinated, the more that kids will contract and spread these viruses.

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