Millions of children at risk of measles as coronavirus fears stopping vaccines

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“There are virtually no vaccination records in West Africa other than the records held by parents,” she said, adding that “an infant birth cohort could miss out on vaccinations with serious consequences ”.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, measles was already resurfacing in some places. In 2017, there were 7,585,900 estimated cases of measles and 124,000 estimated deaths, according to the World Health Organization. In 2018, the latest year for which international figures were compiled, there were 9,769,400 estimated cases of measles and 142,300 related deaths.

In 2019, the United States reported 1,282 cases of measles, its highest level in more than 25 years. The measles vaccine has been available for more than 50 years.

Countries like Brazil, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Nigeria, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are currently fighting measles outbreaks. Bolivia, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Honduras, Lebanon, Nepal, Paraguay, Somalia, South Sudan and Uzbekistan are among the countries that have postponed their vaccination programs.

Dr. Kampmann was also concerned about the potential outbreaks in the richer countries of North America and Europe, which do not have national inoculation programs. Due to fears of Covid-19, US pediatric practices are starting to report significant drops in visits to healthy children, including those for routine vaccines.

“Even in resource-rich environments, there is a danger that measles will raise its ugly head in the not too distant future,” added Dr. Kampmann, “so it is even more important to maintain routine vaccinations. “

Dr. Melinda Wharton, director of the immunization services division of the C.D.C., said that one of the benefits of current social distancing measures is that if outbreaks of measles occur, transmission could be limited. She said that in recent years, many cases have entered the United States from common travel destinations and that the sharp decline in air travel due to the pandemic could also limit cases of measles.

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