You may have heard about the most recent measles outbreak. Well, New York state is experiencing one of its largest measles outbreaks in decades. While it is mostly concentrated among Orthodox Jewish communities in the lower Hudson region and within Brooklyn, these cases have been traced to international travelers returning from Israel and Europe. Currently, there are over 200 cases in New York state, with six in Monroe County.
Each and every year we continue to see tens of thousands of Americans get sick from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines — some people are hospitalized, some even die. Vaccination is our best protection and prevention against these diseases. To prevent measles, the MMR vaccine is recommended. MMR stands for measles, mumps and rubella.
In addition, flu cases are also rising across New York, with over 50,000 confirmed cases. Over 11,000 cases in children ages birth to 4, over 14,000 in children 5 to 17 and, similarly, over 13,000 in 18-49-year-olds. As the data reflects, children make up almost half of the confirmed cases. As of Feb. 16, Cayuga County has received 448 laboratory-confirmed flu cases since September. And just this flu season, New York has had three pediatric deaths from the flu.
Vaccination is a critical step in protecting those who are most vulnerable to illness: infants and young children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems. Those who are most vulnerable and not eligible for certain vaccines get some protection by having others around them immunized. Expectant parents and parents and caregivers of children younger than 5 should be up-to-date with their immunizations, including Tdap (which protects against whooping cough). In addition, everyone should receive a seasonal flu shot, especially if you care for young children, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.