From Jan. 1 to 28, there were 84 reported cases of measles from across 14 states. Out of these cases, 56 have been confirmed to be associated with the outbreak in Disneyland back in December. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said figures for 2014 represent the most number of measles cases in the country in the last 20 years, urging the public to get vaccinated against the disease.
Measles was officially declared eliminated in the U.S. back in 2000 but the disease could still be brought in by travelers from abroad. Dr. Anne Schuchat, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases director for the CDC, said the current outbreak is a wake-up call, reminding the public to be vigilant about preventing the disease from gaining a foothold again in the country.
Before the measles vaccine was used in the U.S., over half a million children acquired the disease every year. From 1956 to 1960, about 450 people died every year, while many of those who survived have had to live with life-long complications like hearing, sight and respiratory problems.
Addressing parents who are concerned about the safety of measles vaccines, Schuchat said that links to autism have not borne out at all. It's understandable for a parent to be worried but the director reiterated that babies are advised to be vaccinated because they are the most vulnerable against the disease.
"It is frustrating that some people have opted out of vaccination. I think it's very important for people to have good information they can rely on about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and for our system to serve people in making it easy, efficient, and convenient to get vaccines," she added.
But while for different reasons that the anti-vaccination movement believes in, some medical professionals also think that children should not receive vaccinations of whatever kind, arguing that children should build their immune systems naturally and not through the use of chemicals in injections.
The CDC cannot account just yet how many of the cases in the Disneyland outbreak involved individuals who have not been vaccinated against measles but can say that 79 percent of unvaccinated measles cases in 2014 were brought about by personal beliefs.
The agency, however, wants to clarify that just because someone doesn't accept the use of measles vaccines that they shun vaccines as a whole. The U.S. maintains a rate of toddlers that have not been vaccinated at all to less than 1 percent, showing that majority of babies do get vaccinated at some point or another.