CDC Pushes Measles Vaccine Ahead of Busy Summer Travel Season

What year is it again?

The measles vaccine is the hottest 2023 summer travel accessory right now
The measles vaccine is the hottest 2023 summer travel accessory right now

This week, the CDC officially issued an advisory for travelers amid active measles outbreaks in various parts of the world, urging them to make sure they’re up to date on their measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines “especially prior to international travel regardless of the destination.”

“As of June 8, 2023, CDC has been notified of 16 confirmed U.S. cases of measles across 11 jurisdictions, with 14 (88%) linked to international travel,” the advisory reads. “Based on current estimates, twice as many Americans are planning to travel internationally in 2023 compared with 2022. Many countries and popular travel destinations, such as London, England, have experienced measles outbreaks in recent years. The United States has seen an increase in measles cases during the first 5 months of 2023, with 16 reported cases compared with 3 in 2022 during the same period.”

Seen this movie, roll credits.

Of course, while measles is a highly contagious viral illness — it can remain infectious in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours after an infected person leaves an area — it’s not novel. A Persian doctor actually published one of the first written accounts of measles disease back in the 9th century. Later, in 1912, measles became a nationally notifiable disease in the U.S., requiring U.S. healthcare providers to report all diagnosed cases and, according to the CDC, an average of 6,000 measles-related deaths were reported each year of that first decade of reporting.

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Thanks to the introduction of a vaccine, however, the cases began dropping drastically and, in 2000, measles was declared eliminated from the U.S. altogether.

And, yet, here we are again in 2023. According to one study, a substantial portion of the U.S. measles cases in the era after elimination were among the “intentionally unvaccinated” (surprise, surprise). And while one infected person can infect nine out of 10 of their unvaccinated close contacts, vaccine refusal increases risks to both people who refuse vaccines and fully vaccinated individuals.

Anyway, if there’s one thing that the past few years have taught us, it’s that travel comes with a certain level of responsibility to protect oneself and, as an extension of that, others (namely others) against highly infectious viruses. Travel restrictions aren’t likely here (though, to be fair, we were all unaware that COVID was going to be an international emergency) but it would still behoove you to be cognizant.


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