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International Measles Outbreaks

Folks in developed countries started thinking about measles again a few years ago when their cases began to rise.

There were 541,247 measles cases worldwide in 2019.
There were 541,247 measles cases worldwide in 2019 and then a huge drop during the COVID pandemic, with just under 60,000 cases in 2021.

Not surprisingly, that coincided with a rise in worldwide cases.

International Measles Outbreaks

And now?

While we are seeing record low cases in most developed countries following COVID-19 travel restrictions, mask wearing, and social distancing practices, measles is once again on the rise in regions of the world wear it is still endemic.

In Zimbabwe alone, nearly 700 people, mostly children, have already died this year in a measles outbreak that began in April!


“Almost 41 countries have already put off, or may put off, their measles campaigns for 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This increases the risk of bigger outbreaks around the world, including the United States.”

Global Measles Outbreaks

Although reported cases and deaths are still far lower than the highs of 2020, without extensive immunization campaigns, we will likely quickly climb back up to record levels.

“Measles outbreaks result from measles virus finding immunity gaps in the population, combined with travel-related importation and exportation of measles cases and population mixing.”

Measles outbreaks strategic response plan: 2021–2023

Whether it is because of a lack of access to vaccines or vaccine hesitancy, we must work to get everyone vaccinated and protected and stop these measles outbreaks.

“The fact that measles outbreaks are occurring at the highest levels we’ve seen in a generation is unthinkable when we have a safe, cost-effective, and proven vaccine. No child should die from a vaccine-preventable disease. We are proud to chart a bold way forward with partners to close gaps in access to immunization and rapidly respond to outbreaks so everyone, everywhere can live healthy lives.”

Elizabeth Cousens, President & CEO, United Nations Foundation

In addition to immunization campaigns in those countries with measles outbreaks, it is important to make sure you are vaccinated and protected if traveling.

Get vaccinated before traveling!
Get vaccinated before traveling!

Remember, two doses of the MMR vaccine are your best protection against measles!

More on Global Measles Outbreaks

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