Over the past several months, measles outbreaks have been rising to rates not seen in years. Outbreaks in Washington and New York have surpassed the total number of cases seen in 2018, according to the CDC.
In Washington, nearly 75 cases have been confirmed this year. And in New York, two separate outbreaks have brought about more than 350 confirmed cases. 214 have been confirmed in Queens and Brooklyn, with 155 more in the New York City suburb of Rockland County.
According to epidemiologist Jeff Doerr, these larger outbreaks are generally seen in areas where people avoid immunizations.
“With these groups, it’s around groups that have chosen not be vaccinated, either from religious purposes or own personal beliefs.”
In New York, many of the cases have involved Orthodox Jewish communities, according to the city.
Due to the fact that measles is so highly contagious, Doerr says the spread will expand quickly in areas with high numbers of people who are unvaccinated.
Rockland County declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, banning all unvaccinated children, under the age of 18, from public places.
Vaccinated or not, there is still a chance of you getting and spreading the disease.
The disease can be spread four days before symptoms even show up. In fact, you can spread the disease to someone without even being in the room with them.
“You could be in a room, share it, you could leave that room and that virus is still viable for a couple more hours,” Doerr explained. “Someone could come in, for a couple hours later, and still pick that up.”
Doerr said that one dose is expected to be about 90 percent effective and with two doses that effectiveness increases to 97 percent.
Though no vaccine is 100 percent effective, Doerr said a measles vaccination is generally considered a difference maker due to the low rate of contraction.
“There’s some people that don’t respond to them and there’s lots of variables that come into play,” Doerr explained. “But overall, it’s still a really good, solid vaccine.”
Statistically speaking, those who are unvaccinated have a very good chance of contraction, should they come in contact with it.
“So if you take ten people, every single one’s unvaccinated, by statistics, nine of them are going to pick this up,” Doerr said.
Although there was an outbreak in neighboring Washington, no cases have been confirmed in Idaho.