Vaccine opponents propose 'measles parties' to build resistance in Minnesota children amid historical outbreak: 6 things to know

As Minnesota's worst measles outbreak in decades nears a potential end, anti-vaccine advocates have intensified local efforts to discredit vaccine safety, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Here are six things to know.

1. State health officials reported the last confirmed case of the measles linked to the outbreak July 13. If no new infections are identified, health officials could potentially declare the outbreak over Friday, according to the Post.

2. Sixty four of the 79 reported cases have occurred among the Somali Minnesotan community. Immunization rates among this population dropped in recent years due to the spread of misinformation regarding vaccine safety.

3. The outbreak spurred health workers to track down those potentially exposed and improve vaccination adherence among the affected communities. Recently, anti-vaccine activists have also stepped up community outreach efforts.

4. In Facebook groups, Minnesota anti-vaccine advocates have discussed holding "measles parties" to expose unvaccinated children to the illness so they can contract the virus and subsequently develop immunity. Health officials are aware of the Facebook posts, but said there is no evidence of these parties actually occurring. The advocates have also used social media to encourage families skeptical of vaccines to travel to Minneapolis to meet with associates of Andrew Wakefield, the former physician whose debunked and retracted research inspired the modern anti-vaccine movement.

5. Vaccine supporters have expressed concern regarding the recent activity of anti-vaccine advocates.

"I'm shocked by how emboldened they've gotten," Karen Ernst, executive director of Voices for Vaccines, a national pro-vaccine, parent-led advocacy group, told the Post. "I think most people thought the anti-vaccine voices would sit home and lay low. . . . Instead, they became more public, they did more outreach … other states should be on alert, as these Minnesota anti-vaxxers have reach across the country … they have the money to help mobilize and finance their agenda in any other state."

6. The measles is a highly transmissible virus characterized by fever, runny nose, cough and a rash that spreads all over the body. While no deaths have been reported in the Minnesota outbreak, the condition can — in rare cases — result in death. Twenty-two people have been hospitalized as a result of the Minnesota outbreak. Two doses of the mumps, measles, rubella vaccine is 97 percent effective at preventing the measles, according to the CDC.

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