Measles Outbreak Surpasses Previous Year’s Total, Prompts Debate Over Immigration Policies and Public Health

Measles cases in the U.S. have surged this year, already surpassing the total for 2023, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 As of March 21, the CDC confirmed 64 measles cases reported by 17 jurisdictions, including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. Notably, Kentucky has reported no cases as of Tuesday morning.

In 2023, a total of 58 cases were reported nationwide. Responding to the uptick, the CDC issued a health advisory on March 18, urging people, especially children and international travelers, to get vaccinated.

“Measles (rubeola) is highly contagious; one person infected with measles can infect 9 out of 10 unvaccinated individuals with whom they come in close contact,” the CDC’s health advisory emphasized.

The majority of reported cases have been linked to international travel and unvaccinated children aged 12 months and older. Several countries, including Austria, the Philippines, Romania, and the United Kingdom, are grappling with measles outbreaks.

Despite the concerning rise in cases, the CDC reassured that due to “high population immunity against measles in most U.S. communities, the risk of widescale spread is low.” However, some communities with low vaccination coverage may be at higher risk for outbreaks, the agency cautioned.

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, advised parents to consult with their pediatricians about vaccination. He stressed the importance of trusted medical guidance in addressing vaccine confidence, particularly in light of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some argue that the uptick in measles cases can be attributed to the substantial influx of undocumented immigrants entering the country. They contend that the lack of rigorous health screenings and vaccination protocols for migrants at the border facilitates the transmission of infectious diseases like measles. 

This perspective underscores the broader discourse surrounding immigration policies and the necessity for stricter border security measures to safeguard public health in the United States.