Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) are highly contagious infectious diseases that have historically resulted in significant deaths. For example, an estimated 2.6 million deaths were caused by measles in 1980 alone. However, an effective vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella exists and has been administered more than 500 million times in more than 100 countries around the world since 2001. As a result, places with high vaccination coverage have significantly lower rates of the three diseases.
The MMR vaccine is administered to young children, with the first dose usually given at 9 to 15 months of age. The second dose can be administered anywhere from 15 months to 6 years of age. After two doses, nearly 97% of vaccinated individuals are effectively protected against the diseases. The United States (US) was one of the first countries to be declared free of measles, which occurred in 2000. However, with increasing globalization, the risk of the diseases still exist, and it is important that the vaccine coverage remains high. Vaccination coverage in US states is discussed below.
MMR Vaccination Coverage in Four US States
New York City
New York City is the most populous city in the US. As a result, an outbreak in the megacity would pose serious and wide-ranging risks to the health and well-being of the masses. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is the agency responsible for ensuring the administration of MMR vaccines throughout the state. The agency is responsible for ensuring all New York residents have access to vaccines, as well as for maintaining accurate immunization records. The total MMR vaccination coverage in New York was 92.5% according to a survey conducted in 2017.
California is the most populous US state, and it also has one of the most highly-rated healthcare systems in the country. The total MMR vaccination coverage in California is 92.9%. The California Department for Health is a department of the State of California’s Health and Human Services Agency and takes proactive measures to educate the public about MMR and other important vaccinations.
The Missouri Department of Health is the agency responsible for ensuring access to vaccination and immunization service in the state. While high compared to most parts of the world, Missouri's vaccination coverage is statistically the lowest among US states at only 85.8%. A possible reason for this rate of coverage is the state's low population density, which makes it challenging for health workers to reach populations living in remote areas.
Massachusetts has the highest rate of vaccinations of all US states at 98.3%. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences is the dedicated agency for administering vaccinations and disseminating information about the diseases. It is widely recognized as one of the most effective bureaus to ensure the elimination of MMR within the state.
Is the United States Free of Measles?
The United States was among the first countries in the world to be declared free of measles as early as the year 2000. Still, the MMR vaccination coverage varies widely across the 50 states, with coverage ranging from 85.8% in Missouri to almost 98.3% in Massachusetts. These rates are among the highest when compared to the rest of the world, but concentrated efforts to improve these percentages continue to date.