An outbreak of measles traced to Disneyland in California has prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to urge parents to make sure that their children are up to date on their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
"We know from many repeated studies that the MMR vaccine is safe and effective," AAP President Sandra G. Hassink said in a prepared press release. "It is in fact one of the most effective vaccines we have. And as the measles outbreak has shown, this virus is incredibly contagious. "
Health officials have linked the outbreak to about 100 people across 14 states.
"The fact that this disease has resurfaced for the first time in more than a decade has prompted pediatricians to reiterate the same recommendation to parents that we've made for decades with renewed urgency: Vaccines work. Delaying your child's vaccines, or refusing the vaccine, leaves your child vulnerable to this invisible threat," Hassink said.
The MMR vaccine became a topic of controversy after a 1998 study published by Andrew Wakefield in The Lancet linked the vaccine to autism.
But according to the AAP website, "Since the study was published, 10 of the 13 authors have retracted the findings. In 2010, The Lancet retracted the study, citing ethical misconduct on the part of Wakefield."
Additionally, the website notes, "Studies conducted in the US and Europe have found no association between the MMR vaccine and autism. Over the years, the Institute of Medicine and the AAP have organized several panels of independent scientists – all concluded that there is no association between MMR and autism."
Some parents, however, aren't convinced. Many delay immunizations for their children or refuse to get them at all. While there are instances of children having adverse reactions to immunizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Severe reactions to vaccines occur so rarely that the risk is difficult to calculate."
Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. Since that time, according to the CDC, the number of cases each year has topped 100 only five times.
We worked hard to eradicate measles. As the AAP noted in its press release, "When measles was more common in the U.S., hundreds of children died from this virus every year."
Parents with concerns about vaccines or vaccinations should talk to their pediatrician and ensure that their children are up to date on vaccinations.