From the ND Dept of Health: Encouraging MMR Vaccination to Your Patients

Posted 10 months ago in ND Healthcare

Encouraging MMR Vaccination to Your Patients

Did you know 1 in 5 unvaccinated people in the United States who get measles will be hospitalized? Even more, nearly 1 to 3 out of every 1,000 children who become infected with measles will die from respiratory and neurologic complications of this disease. Before measles vaccines were available in 1963, the United States saw on average 3 to 4 million cases of measles each year and nearly all children got measles by the age of 15. If we still saw these rates of infection today, we would expect hundreds to thousands of children to become infected, need hospitalization, and potentially die each year due to the measles virus.

As a nurse, you know that our health care system would not be able to handle all of those measles patients, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why it is extremely important to maintain high levels of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination coverage across the state of North Dakota and around the entire United States. The nurses of North Dakota should feel confident in the benefits of vaccinating their patients with the MMR vaccine in order to continue to keep our communities safe from measles!

Unfortunately, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic routine immunization rates, including MMR, have steadily declined around the world. Specifically in North Dakota, MMR vaccination rates amongst North Dakotan infants ages 19 – 35 months decreased more than 6%, from 84.7% in December 2019 to 78.3% in December 2021. Additionally, kindergarten-entry MMR vaccination rates decreased from 94.75% during the 2019-2020 school year to 92.36% during the 2021-2022 school year. A reduction in vaccination coverage can lead to pockets of un- or under-immunized children across the state, which consequently works to lower our community’s herd immunity.

Herd immunity, also known as community immunity, refers to the term in which a certain threshold of the population is immune to an infectious disease. As a result, the infectious disease is no longer able to easily spread and infect those who are not immune. For reference, it is recommended that a population’s vaccination coverage rate against measles is at 95% vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the remaining 5% of the population. Herd immunity against measles is crucial for keeping all of us, especially your patients who are immunocompromised and infants too young to be vaccinated, safe from inadvertently contracting measles from the unvaccinated.

 The great news is that MMR vaccines work extremely well to prevent the spread of measles. In fact, one dose of the MMR vaccine has been shown to be 93% effective against measles and two doses of the MMR vaccine are 97% effective against measles. Your recommendation matters - help your community by encouraging the MMR vaccine to those who remain unvaccinated during every medical encounter!

 For more information check out the CDC’s website or the NDDoH measles page.