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Measles cases are spreading, despite high vaccination rates. What’s going on

6/24/2014

The Washington Post
By Tara Haelle
June 23, 2014

It’s now official: Measles cases in the United States are at their highest level since 2000, when the disease was declared eliminated — meaning that regular, year-round transmission had been interrupted. Five hundred fourteen cases have been reported this year — more than double the previous high, in 2011 — and the number is expected to continue to climb.

The measles vaccine is among the most effective, and the vast majority of Americans have either had the measles (and are therefore immune to a second case) or have been vaccinated against it. So why are so many people being infected?

One big reason is vaccine refusals: The overwhelming majority of current infections occur in unvaccinated people, most of whom declined the injections for religious, philosophical or personal reasons, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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