By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

This week marks the 25th anniversary celebration of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), a time for awareness about the importance of vaccinating children.

The annual event carries extra importance this year after the CDC announced on April 25 that the number of confirmed measles cases in the United States had reached its highest level since 1994. The 695 reported cases (as of April 24, 2019) exceeds the total reported cases for all of 2016, 2017, and 2018. The United States declared measles eliminated in 2000. The agency believes this wave started through importation and has spread unusually quickly in communities that are under-vaccinated.

“CDC is working to reach the small percentage of vaccine-hesitant individuals so they too understand the importance of vaccines. It is imperative that we correct misinformation and reassure fearful parents so they protect their children from illnesses with long-lasting health impacts,” Robert Redfield, MD, CDC director said in a statement marking the start of NIIW. “Roughly 1.3%, or 100,000 children, in this country under the age of 2 have not been vaccinated, making them vulnerable to the current measles outbreak.”

In recent years, there has been a wave of antivaccine hysteria fueled by misinformation and phony science. Plenty of misinformation circulates online, but it may be possible some healthcare workers cast doubt on the safety of vaccines.

Regardless, measles outbreaks are happening, and ED providers across the country are on heightened alert. In the May issue of ED Management, healthcare workers in Clark County, WA, and Brooklyn, NY, two areas hit especially hard with measles outbreaks, share stories of how their facilities are handling the emergency. Meanwhile, in the May issue of ED Legal Letter, legal experts warn of the possible liabilities medical facilities face if providers miss a measles diagnosis in a patient who arrived at an ED for treatment.

For much more about this measles outbreak, other infectious diseases, and best practices for prevention, be sure to check out upcoming issues of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention and Infectious Disease Alert.