Measles Is 10x More Contagious Than COVID-19––Good Thing There’s A Vaccine

I did two things after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and closed schools and offices. At first I panicked and did everything a single mom does when she panics and prepares for a global pandemic quarantine. Second, I called my daughter's pediatrician office and planned her visit well.
One of those things was easier to do than the other. I postponed my daughter's appointment because I (naively) believed the pandemic would be over by late spring / early summer. The choice had been easy. My daughter did not need to be vaccinated, nor did I have any pressing concerns that required the immediate attention of a pediatrician. We could wait a few more weeks.
As it turns out, many parents and caregivers made the same choice back in March. But many of these families have not yet returned to their visits, causing pediatricians to worry about missed vaccines and the potential impact on the community.
Scary Mommy spoke to Dr. Sara Bode, Medical Director of Nationwide Children's Care Connection's Nationwide Health and Mobile Clinics and lead author of a study comparing pre-pandemic measles vaccination rates with that summer. Dr. Bode and her team found a ten percent decrease in the number of children who received their first MMR vaccine.
At first glance, this number probably means little to you. Exactly what does it mean for a community if ten percent of children are not given measles vaccines, especially when a deadly virus infects more than 200,000 people a day and kills more than 3,000 people a day?
But the truth is measles is deadly and a ten percent drop in vaccinations has a significant impact on the community. A ten percent decrease in vaccinations means the community no longer has herd immunity, said Dr. Bode, who noted that earlier and more recent models have shown how quickly and easily measles outbreaks can occur in a community without herd immunity. "One case can grow to hundreds in a matter of days."
Karl Tapales / Getty
"The moment immunity breaks down or becomes frayed, measles keeps coming back," says Dr. Paul Offit, immunology expert and director of the vaccine education center at Philadelphia Children's Hospital (CHOP), in an interview with CBS News.
That's right, because measles is a highly contagious virus. It is ten times more contagious than COVID and spreads easily. It can get through respiratory droplets or contaminated surfaces. Therefore, if you have an environment like a school or daycare center with a large number of unprotected children, you can spot an outbreak pretty quickly. "Measles is a virus that requires only a small amount of measles to be transmitted from one person to the next," says Dr. Bode.
The good thing is that if you've delayed your child's visit and / or vaccination for fear of COVID exposure, it's not too late to catch up. Dr. Bode assures us that even if your child is behind on their vaccinations, it's never too late to catch up.
And this is important - even if you listen to health professionals and stay home while this pandemic rages around us. Because COVID will fade and the world will open up again (hopefully sooner rather than later) and it only takes one exposure before any community deals with another deadly virus outbreak. This time one that could have been completely avoided.
It is easy to urge families to have their children vaccinated, but without addressing the concerns that kept them from going to these dates in the first place, the urging of the world will be pointless.
Families have canceled or postponed their children's visits for several reasons. Many, like mine, were late for fear of COVID exposure - the last place they wanted to be was where sick people flocked. Other families have suffered from stressors caused by the pandemic, such as: B. Loss of jobs, loss of income or instability of housing, canceled and not rescheduled. All of this made it difficult to prioritize an investigation, says Dr. Bode.
Dr. Bode and pediatricians and clinics across the country have taken steps to address these concerns. Both the CDC and the American Pediatric Academy have published guidelines for pediatric practices to help ensure safety. The measures include masking, separation of sick and healthy patients and PPE for doctors. Dr. Bode would encourage any parent who is nervous to call their pediatrician and ask about protocols that might help address concerns.
For those families who are uncomfortable going to an office or who are unable to get checkups, perhaps because they don't have access to reliable transportation or for other reasons, many clinics “have worked hard to get vaccines there to bring where the families are ”. says Dr. Bode. Her team has set up vaccination clinics at school sites, homeless shelters, apartment complexes, and other community locations. The same types of vaccination clinics are popping up across the country and it's worth talking to your pediatrician about them.
When it comes to COVID, until vaccines are widely available, we all remain faced with only mitigating measures - masks and social distancing. But when it comes to measles, we don't have to be content with just mitigating. We can prevent it. "When you get a dose of measles vaccine, you're protected. It's so easy to keep your family 100% safe," says Dr. Bode.
I know nobody wants another virus to worry. We all want to leave COVID behind and never hear the words "contagious deadly virus" again - or maybe it's just me. To make sure we get a break from these words, we as a community need to make sure we don't lose herd immunity to a disease that is 100% preventable.
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