On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Disneyland measles: What we know about outbreak, vaccines

Share story

Disneyland
People visit Disneyland on January 22, 2015 in Anaheim, California. The theme park known as "The Happiest Place on Earth" for spreading happiness has a new contagion, measles, with an outbreak of 51 cases linked to Disneyland.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The outbreak of measles in Disneyland has now surpassed 80 cases, bringing the spotlight back on the anti-vaccination movement. On Thursday, officials announced a case found in a University of Minnesota student. 

Many believe the movement has led to outbreaks of diseases once thought to be nearly eradicated. On The Daily Circuit, we discuss this latest outbreak, and talk about what's behind the push away from vaccines.

What we know about the measles outbreak and vaccinations:

1. Communities need herd immunity to prevent outbreaks, Jacobson said.

Those who refuse to vaccinate their children put those who can't receive vaccines and infants under 12 months at risk. Even in the vaccinated population, about 5 percent aren't immune. Communities need a more than 90 percent vaccination rate to stop outbreaks.

2. People considered "vaccine hesitant" are the biggest risk to outbreak control, Offit said.

From the Washington Post:

Boosting compliance among the "vaccine hesitant" population could have major public health implications, doctors say, especially because last year the United States had its highest number of measles cases since 1977. The topic of "vaccine hesitant" patients has become the focus of a growing body of medical research in recent years. Doctors are trying to understand what triggers vaccine worries and which strategies work best for overcoming those fears.

Doctors spend many office hours trying to convince these parents that the scientific evidence proves the shots are, in fact, safe and effective. But these hesitant parents have been bombarded by conflicting information. And they don't view all of the shots the same way. The vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella faces particularly strong resistance as a result of thoroughly discredited studies linking the vaccine to autism. So some parents, even those generally open to other vaccines, push to delay or skip this one. The shot is supposed to be given at 12 months and again at age 4.

3. Requiring people who choose to abstain from vaccinations to seek a consultation with a medical professional could help increase vaccination rates.

One Minnesota lawmaker is trying to add that to state law:

4. Medical professionals are asking people with infants under 12 months to avoid areas like Disneyland and parts of Arizona experiencing an outbreak. 

Jacobson anyone born after 1957 should have had at least two doses a month apart to be immune. If you are exposed to measles, vaccinating within three days can help.

5. If you're vaccinating your children on a delayed schedule, you're playing a dangerous game, Offit said.

6. It is important to remember that we vaccinate to prevent suffering and death, Offit said.

"All the vaccines prevent suffering, hospitalization and death," he said. "They're all important. When we choose not to get them, we create a hole that this virus or bacteria could potentially walk right through."

7. If you're looking for evidence and science-based research on vaccines, visit the following sites: Centers for Disease ControlVoices for Vaccines and the Vaccine Education Center.