Friday, December 18, 2020

Measles Deaths Hits 20 Year High

For obvious reasons vaccinations are a very hot topic at the moment. Many countries around the world are currently rolling out programs to vaccinate their populations for Covid-19. After being vaccinated individuals have a very high degree of protection from catching the virus (although we don't know as yet how long that protection lasts). 

What is very clear from the growing number of  measles cases around the world is that fake vaccination stories can be very dangerous to the success of an immunization program. Last year more than 200,000 people died from measles. This was a twenty year high. The numbers dying from measles are likely to rise even further as this year Covid-19 has disrupted immunization programs in many countries across the globe. 

The World Health Organization says that there were rises in the number of measles cases in all WHO regions. The main reason that we are now seeing a rise in the number of deaths from a disease which is highly preventable is the failure to vaccinate children. If young children are vaccinated on time with two doses of measles-containing vaccines (MCV1 and MCV2) we can prevent measles outbreaks and deaths. Unfortunately idiots spreading vaccination scare stories are causing a fall in vaccination rates in many countries.

The University of Washington's Local Burden of Disease – Vaccines interactive map visualizes vaccination coverage across the developing world. The map reveals the MCV1 coverage (the percentage of children receiving the measles-containing-vaccine first-dose (MCV1) immunization) in individual countries. If you click on an individual country on the map you can also view a graph showing the percentage of the population immunized over time. This allows you to see at a glance which countries are seeing drops in the numbers of children being vaccinated for measles.


Last year I released a story map exploring how vaccination scare stories in Europe were causing a spike in the number of measles cases across the continent. Measles in Europe visualizes the rising incidence rates of measles in European countries. It also explores some of the reasons why most European countries have seen large increases in measles cases. The data for the map comes from the World Health Organization. This data only includes the number of reported cases of measles in each country. The actual number of measles cases is probably much higher across the whole continent.

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