Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urged all Americans to vaccinate against measles Wednesday as the confirmed number of cases reached 1,001.
The latest figure is the highest since 1992, when the number of confirmed cases reached 2,200. Thanks to wide acceptance of vaccines, measles was declared eliminated in 2000.
Azar said Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue promoting the safety and efficacy of vaccines, but that surpassing the 1,000-mark is “a troubling reminder” that pockets of the population remain unvaccinated.
“The measles vaccine is among the most-studied medical products we have and is given safely to millions of children and adults each year,” Azar said. “I encourage all Americans to talk to your doctor about what vaccines are recommended to protect you, your family, and your community from measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.”
The outbreak is partially attributed to parents who choose not to vaccinate their children, either for religious or philosophical reasons. Many parents take advantage of the exemptions, including in New York, where the health department has confirmed about 800 cases statewide.
While no one infected in the United States has died yet, for every 1,000 children who contract the virus, one or two will die, according to the CDC. The CDC recommends the second vaccine dose be administered when the child is most vulnerable to complications from the virus, between ages four and six.