Global Vaccines Press Fellowship

I am in Atlanta, Georgia, as a part of the National Press Foundation's Global Vaccines Press Fellowship. I was joined by 9 other reporters from various news organizations to learn about vaccine-preventable diseases and global outbreaks. Tonight was mostly focused on polio eradication and measles initiative efforts. We heard from the Dr. Jacob Kumaresan from the World Health Organization and Dr. Rebecca Martin from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I am especially interested in the measles vaccine and its surrounding controversies, as I will be researching this issue in Berlin this fall.

Here are some newsworthy facts, according to Dr. Rebecca Martin and the CDC :

  • Measles is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable childhood mortality.
  • Measles resurgence in Europe : France saw 15,076 cases of measles in 2011, followed by Italy with 5,090 cases. Germany saw 1,480 cases. The 2011 grand total for measles cases in Europe = 32,154 cases.
  • Fifteen cases of measles were reported to the CDC following the 2012 Indianapolis Superbowl. These cases were all traced back to a single case in the stadium.
  • Investigating measles outbreaks can be expensive : Investigating 34 cases and over 500 exposures in a community setting cost $167,685. In a hospital setting, the numbers are higher - investigating 14 cases and 8,231 exposures cost $799,136.
  • Despite declaring "measles elimination" in 2002, the US saw an incidence of 222 cases in 2011 - over a 300 percent increase from 2010.

The Measles & Rubella Initiative set a goal to reduce global measles deaths by at least 95 percent by 2015, compared with 2000 levels. Millennium Development Goal 4 also aims to reduce under-five mortality rate by two-thirds  between 1999 and 2015.

Despite increasing measles incidence rates in many countries worldwide, are these attainable goals? Thoughts?