Measles outbreaks in the Midwest spark online debate

Measles cases have emerged in Wisconsin and Illinois, drawing prompt responses from health officials. Some social media posts attribute the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases to vaccine opponents’ denial of widely accepted public health practices, while others attribute the outbreak to immigration. Some social media posts falsely equated measles with chickenpox, asserting the disease is harmless and accusing health officials of fear mongering.

Risk level: Medium

Recommendation: False claims about the risks associated with measles and the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine may promote vaccine hesitancy among parents who are considering vaccinating their children. It is recommended doctors in the Midwest be prepared for questions about the risks associated with measles and the safety and efficacy of the MMR vaccine. Talking points may emphasize that contracting measles may result in serious illness, hospitalization, brain damage, or death. The MMR vaccine remains the best protection against the disease, and the CDC recommends children get their first dose at 12 to15 months and their second dose at four to six years old. The measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine, which protects against four diseases, is also available to children 12 months through 12 years old.