In a follow-up on the measles outbreak in Minnesota, officials with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) now put the outbreak at 50 cases in three counties– Hennepin, Ramsey and Crow Wing Counties.

Measles rash Image/CDC
Measles rash

The bulk of the cases are reported in Somali Americans who were unvaccinated (90 percent).

Health officials emphasize that the issue is the vaccination status. Director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division at the MDH, Kristen Ehresmann said, “I want to be very clear that this outbreak has nothing to do with being Somali. It’s just the sheer fact of being unvaccinated.”

Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger, MD, MSPH piggybacked on that saying, “This is about unvaccinated children, not specific communities.”

The first measles vaccine was licensed for use in the US in 1963. An average of 549,000 measles cases and 495 measles deaths were reported annually in the decade prior to the live measles vaccine.

In 1989, a second-dose vaccination schedule was recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

By 2000, endemic measles was declared “eliminated” from the United States.

The CDC states that two doses of the MMR vaccine are 97% effective at preventing measles infection, while one dose is 93% effective.