HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — In recent years, vaccine preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough have made a resurgence in the U.S. and in Europe.

Why is this happening?

One significant correlation is that childhood immunization rates have plummeted after a 1998 study falsely claimed that the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella was linked to autism. While the study has since been unfounded, fears about vaccine safety have persisted in Europe and in pockets of the U.S.

Within the past few months, Oregon, Washington, and New York experienced outbreaks due to measles, primarily spread by unvaccinated children and adults, which resulted in health alert notifications or public health emergency declarations.

In 2011, France reported a massive measles outbreak with nearly 15,000 cases, and in 2012 the U.K. reported more than 2,000 measles cases. In the U.S., the prevalence of whooping cough, (preventable with the DTap or Tdap vaccine) increased in 2012 to nearly 50,000 cases.

Why should I care?

Measles can be serious in all age groups; however, children younger than 5 years and adults older than 20 years are more likely to suffer from measles complications, to include ear infections, pneumonia, and diarrhea. Pneumonia complications can lead to death; one out of 1,000 children who get measles develops encephalitis (swelling of the brain), which can lead to convulsions, deafness, or intellectual disability.

Whooping cough can also cause serious and sometimes deadly complications in babies and young children, especially those who have not received the recommended series of pertussis vaccines (DTap/Tdap). Of those babies who are treated in the hospital with pertussis: 23 percent suffer from pneumonia, 61 percent suffer from apnea (slowed or stopped breathing), and 1 percent will die.

What can I do to help?

Both of these vaccine preventable diseases are considered very contagious. Make sure you and your children are current on your recommended vaccinations, not only to protect you and your family from illness, but everyone you come in contact with. Check with the 75th Medical Group’s Immunizations clinic to ensure you and your families’ recommended vaccinations are current and up-to-date.

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