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Low Immunization Coverage Leads to Global Increase in Measles Cases


Measles has been heavily featured in the American news recently due to a rising number of cases of this highly contagious disease. As of March 21, 2024, 64 measles cases were reported in the United States so far in 2024, more than the 58 cases reported in all of 2023. A rise in measles cases is not unique to the U.S., with more than 300,000 cases reported globally in 2023 – an increase of more than 79% from the previous year.

Map displaying country level coverage of measle containing vaccines

This can be partially attributed to the significant decrease in measles immunization in recent years, with more than 61 million doses of measles-containing vaccine postponed or missed between 2020–2022 due to COVID-related disruptions. Low vaccination coverage leaves millions of children around the world susceptible, especially those living in low- and middle-income countries. “This rise in measles cases tells us that we have gaps in our immunization systems that urgently need to be addressed to protect children everywhere,” said IVAC Executive Director Dr. William Moss. “As long as children are susceptible to this vaccine-preventable disease, we will continue to see outbreaks of disease and even deaths.”  

In an IVAC webinar, a panel of experts discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine hesitancy have contributed to an increase in measles cases, both in the U.S. and around the world.

Measles in the News