Small declines in measles vaccination could triple the number of cases

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Even a small decrease in the measles vaccination rate could lead to a threefold increase in cases, according to a modeling study in JAMA Pediatrics.

Researchers used CDC data to simulate measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine coverage for U.S. children aged 2 to 11 years, and then estimated the number of measles cases and associated costs that would occur with declining vaccine coverage due to nonmedical reasons.

At baseline, MMR vaccine coverage was 93%, and the prevalence of nonmedical exemptions was 2%. This would yield 48 measles cases annually in this age group across the U.S. However, if vaccine coverage dropped by 5%, the estimated number of measles cases would increase to 150, costing the public sector an additional $2.1 million.

Eliminating nonmedical exemptions, on the other hand, would bring the annual number of cases down to 38, the researchers note. This, they say, would be “an effective strategy to mitigate annual measles cases and costs.”

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