Measles is 'imminent' global threat, CDC and WHO say

The pandemic spurred major setbacks in global efforts to eliminate measles, making the disease an "imminent threat" for every part of the world, the CDC and World Health Organization said Nov. 23.  

Nearly 40 million children missed a measles vaccine dose last year, according to a joint report from the two organizations. About 25 million children missed a first dose and 14.7 million missed a second dose, marking a record high. Globally, the vaccine coverage rate for the first measles shot (81 percent) is at the lowest level since 2008. 

"This decline is a significant setback in global progress towards achieving and maintaining measles elimination and leaves millions of children susceptible to infection," the CDC and WHO said in a Nov. 23 news release. 

Although the global number of measles cases has fallen over the past two decades, infections increased last year. The WHO and CDC reported an estimated 9 million cases and 128,000 deaths globally in 2021, up from 7.5 million cases and 60,700 deaths in 2020.

"Measles anywhere is a threat everywhere, as the virus can quickly spread to multiple communities and across international borders," the CDC and WHO said, adding that more investment in global immunization programs is needed to help address this threat.

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