On June 5, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the number of measles cases nationwide so far in 2019 was 1,001. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar released the following statement:
“The Department of Health and Human Services has been deeply engaged in promoting the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, amid concerning signs that there are pockets of undervaccination around the country. The 1,000th case of a preventable disease like measles is a troubling reminder of how important that work is to the public health of the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alongside others across HHS, will continue our efforts to support local health departments and healthcare providers in responding to this situation, with the ultimate goal of stopping the outbreak and the spread of misinformation about vaccines, and increasing the public’s confidence in vaccines to help all Americans live healthier lives, safe from vaccine-preventable diseases.
“We cannot say this enough: Vaccines are a safe and highly effective public health tool that can prevent this disease and end the current outbreak. The measles vaccine is among the most-studied medical products we have and is given safely to millions of children and adults each year. Measles is an incredibly contagious and dangerous disease. I encourage all Americans to talk to your doctor about what vaccines are recommended to protect you, your family, and your community from measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.”
In response to the current situation, CDC has:
- Implemented an Incident Management Structure (IMS) within the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases to respond to the measles outbreaks.
- Reinforced to healthcare providers the guidelines for recognition and prevention of measles.
- Developed a toolkit with resources for physicians about measles and vaccines and has begun implementing a strategy to address vaccine hesitancy, including creating new resources and updating existing ones to counter misinformation.
- Undertaken outreach to rabbinical, camp, and medical associations to help spread clear, consistent, and credible vaccine information through trusted sources.
- Deployed a field team to Rockland County, NY, to provide technical assistance with case identification and contact tracing.
- Continued to work with local communities to figure out how to develop culturally appropriate communications resources for affected areas in New York.
- Since January 1, 2019, conducted 73 air contact investigations for measles and identified over 1,500 individuals who were exposed to the measles virus during travel.
- Deployed an immunization program project officer to Albany.
In addition to regular, ongoing efforts supporting vaccination across the department, HHS leadership undertook a significant push during National Infant Immunization Week earlier in May, reaching tens of millions of Americans with messages about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, which will continue in the coming months.
This is a press release at the US Department of Health & Human Services.