FILE PHOTO: A vial of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and an information sheet is seen at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Diseases such as polio and measles are surging around the world following steep declines in child vaccinations for other diseases due to factors caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

U.S. doctors began warning of a possible measles outbreak following stay-at-home orders in which parents kept their children at home instead of attending in-person checkups and scheduled immunizations. Chibuzo Okonta, the president of Doctors Without Borders in West and Central Africa, told the New York Times that the risk of a measles outbreak is now an epidemic that “in a few months’ time that will kill more children than Covid.” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, added in a statement that the resulting outbreaks could “unwind decades of progress” against preventable diseases. 

A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that while respondents were not hesitant to vaccinate their children against other diseases, 25 percent had concerns about vaccinating their children for the seasonal flu, providing some insight into how the public could receive a coronavirus vaccine once it is available. Physicians say they worry that the anti-vaccination movement could dampen efforts to immunize the general population against Covid-19, rendering the vaccine less effective in protecting vulnerable populations. 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

California immunization rates drop 40% during pandemic – EdSource – 6/15/2020. In April vaccinations for children decreased by more than 40% compared to the same month the previous year, according to the California Department of Public Health. The department looked at immunizations for children ages 0 to 18, including 10 legally required for children to attend school in California.

Inside a mobile clinic delivering vaccines to children at home to prevent an uptick in measles during the pandemic – Insider – 6/16/2020. At first Moyer and his staff considered doing home visits, but those can take weeks for insurers to approve. Instead, insurers see mobile clinics as extensions of the office, so Moyer and his staff can spend insurer-approved workdays in the bus, visiting an average of 10 homes a day.

Past Vaccine Failures May Reduce COVID-19 Vaccination Rates – BioSpace – 6/10/2020. The WHO is accumulating research on anti-vaccination subpopulations to understand the concerns and beliefs around vaccines and it working to counter them focusing upon individual capability, motivation and opportunity. A similar education approach may be needed to achieve population-scale vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, using the many vaccines that likely will become available in the coming 18 months.

Low vaccination rates and ‘measles parties’ fueled 2019 measles outbreak in NYC: Study is a wake-up call for the potential of another such outbreak, as vaccination rates plummet during the COVID-19 pandemic – ScienceDaily – 5/27/2020. An analysis of the 2018-2019 measles outbreak in New York City — the largest such outbreak in the United States in nearly three decades — identifies factors that made the outbreak so severe: delayed vaccination of young children combined with increased contact among this age group, likely through “measles parties” designed to purposely infect children. The study by Wan Yang, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, has implications for the future, as vaccination rates plummet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

TomDispatch @TomDispatch on Twitter, 6/16/2020:  This may qualify as the saddest coronavirus story of all. A look at how fighting Covid-19 means letting other diseases spread

LotusOak @LotusOak2 on Twitter, 6/16/2020: Empowering the government to inject people against their will is far more dangerous than the #measles. #Freedom #MedicalFreedom #InformedConsent #HumanRights #WakeUp

Rob Hoadley @robhoadley on Twitter, 6/16/2020: As a parent, what about my child’s right to a measles free school?

Liz Schrayer @LizSchrayer on Twitter, 6/16/2020: VERY CONCERNING: After years making progress, vaccine-preventable diseases like diptheria, cholera, & measles cases which once saved 35 million in 98 nations are rising globally as #COVID19 creates new barriers to immunization.

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