Measles: Background and Federal Role in Vaccine Policy [February 9, 2015]   [open pdf - 269KB]

"The earliest accounts of measles date back over 1,000 years. This report presents basic information about this infectious disease, its history in the United States, available treatments to prevent individuals from contracting measles, and the federal role in combatting measles - from funding, to research, to the authority of the federal government in requiring mandatory childhood vaccinations. The report provides additional resources for information on measles and recommendations for vaccination against the disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 'measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person.' It is transmitted through coughing and sneezing, and it can live for up to two hours on a surface or in an airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed. Someone who is not immunized against measles and comes into contact with the virus has a 90% chance of becoming infected. According to the CDC, in 2013 (the most recent year in which data are available) 'the overall national coverage for MMR vaccine among children aged 19-35 months was 91.9%.' However, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine coverage levels continue to vary by state, with 10 states reporting 95% of children aged 19-35 months receiving at least one dose of MMR vaccine, while in 17 other states, less than 90% were vaccinated. The role of the federal government in vaccine policy, particularly in the development of guidelines for when to administer specific vaccines (and when not to) and to what populations is extensive."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R43899
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
Media Type:
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