Chicago-Area Measles Outbreak Focuses Attention on Preschoolers' Vulnerability

February 5, 2015
by Christina Samuels
Education Week

The day before news of the Chicago-area outbreak became public, the advocacy organization Trust for America's Health released a report saying that 17 states have measles vaccination rates below 90 percent for 19- to 35-month-olds. The organization, which gathered its information from a 2013 CDC survey of states, used the 90 percent threshold to correspond to a goal in its Healthy People 2020 initiative. (Illinois' vaccination rate for that year was 91.4 percent, but as noted, the children in the most recent outbreak were younger than the recommended vaccination age.)

Nationally, 91.1 percent of preschoolers have been vaccinated against measles, but those outlier states are a concern, the organization said. "Sadly, there is a persistent preschooler vaccination gap in the United States," said Jeffrey Levi, the executive director of the organization, in a press release Tuesday. "We're seeing now how leaving children unnecessarily vulnerable to threats like the measles can have a tragic result." 

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