The CDC reported that measles cases in 2022 increased by 18%, and deaths by 43% globally as compared to 2021.
Misinformation on vaccines, spread by a section of social media users, is contributing to vaccine hesitancy and negatively affecting public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 10-year low in routine childhood vaccination rates in 2023, putting around 250,000 kindergartners at risk for measles. This dangerous trend is driven by a growing number of people rejecting established science supporting the safety and effectiveness of childhood vaccines.
In November 2023, the CDC reported that measles cases in 2022 increased by 18%, and deaths by 43% globally (compared to 2021). This takes the estimated number of measles cases to 9 million and deaths to 136,000 – mostly among children.
Measles continues to pose a relentlessly increasing threat to children. In 2022, 37 countries experienced large or disruptive outbreaks compared with 22 countries in 2021. Of the countries experiencing outbreaks, 28 were in the WHO Region for Africa, six in the Eastern Mediterranean, two in Southeast Asia, and one in the European Region.
The increase in measles outbreaks and deaths is staggering, but unfortunately, not unexpected given the declining vaccination rates seen in the past few years. In the US, anti-vaccine advocates have even influenced lawmakers and courts to ease vaccination requirements for kindergarten entry based on religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs.
Despite efforts by major social media companies to remove thousands of accounts and millions of posts containing false or misleading vaccine-related information, concerns about the impact of misinformation on public perception about vaccines continue. Since the vaccine’s introduction, there has been a significant decline in hospitalisations and deaths, as per CDC report.
Measles is preventable with two doses of vaccine. While a modest increase in global vaccination coverage occurred in 2022 from 2021, there were still 33 million children who missed a measles vaccine dose: nearly 22 million missed their first dose and an additional 11 million missed their second dose. The global vaccine coverage rate of the first dose, at 83%, and second dose, at 74%, were still well under the 95% coverage with two doses that is necessary to protect communities from outbreaks.