Children at a School in Uganda receive vaccines from Save the Children health workers. Photo Credit: Rick D'Elia/Save the Children 2016.

Children at a primary school in Uganda receive vaccines from Save the Children health workers.

Immunizations and Measles

As debates rage online between public health officials and the anti-vaccination movement, disease outbreaks are on the rise. Parents have been asking questions about these potentially fatal diseases – should I vaccinate my child? How do these diseases affect children? Are there dangerous side effects to the vaccines? To ease fears and stop the spread of potentially dangerous misinformation, our children's health experts have pulled together facts and tips about measles and other contagious childhood diseases to help parents make informed decisions for their children.

How do the measles affect children?
According to the World Health Organization, measles is one of the top killers of children worldwide – with an average of 400 deaths every day. (1)

What are the symptoms of measles?
Most people associate measles with spots or a rash, but there are many more symptoms including high fever, cough, runny nose and other common symptoms of infection. What's more, when your child is infected with measles, there can be serious complications including blindness, brain swelling (encephalitis) and pneumonia.

What is Save the Children doing to stop the measles?
Each year 1.5 million children under the age of five die of diseases that can be prevented by vaccines – including the measles vaccine. The Gavi Alliance, set up in 2000, in cooperation with governments and organizations like Save the Children, has helped immunize 440 million children. But there is still more to do to reach every child. In response, world leaders recently came together to pledge their support to vaccinate more than 5 million children by 2020. (2)

Can measles vaccinations help prevent a global outbreak?
Experts agree that increased investment in immunization could help developing countries dramatically reduce child mortality. By significantly scaling up the delivery of lifesaving vaccines in developing countries to 90% coverage—including new vaccines to prevent severe diarrhea and pneumonia it is estimated that we could prevent the deaths of some 7.6 million children under 5 by 2019. The number of people who died of measles worldwide fell by 77% between 2000 and 2008, and measles deaths fell by 92% in Africa. Immunization Activities and Save the Children's Health Programs, by Eric Swedberg, Nicola Sarn, Eric Starbuck, Karen Waltensperger.

Should I vaccinate my child?
Experts agree you should always discuss any health concerns with your child’s pediatrician. There are recommended immunization schedules for measles and other childhood illnesses. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend the following:

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