Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Greg Walden: Current measles outbreak showcases the problem of under-vaccination

February 27, 2019
Press Release

Greg Walden: Current measles outbreak showcases the problem of under-vaccination

Click here or on the image above to view Walden’s remarks during today’s hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) today said that the current measles outbreak showcases the problem of under-vaccination in the United States. During a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Walden highlighted the Oregon impact of the measles outbreak and said more needs to be done to raise public awareness and education about the importance of getting vaccinated.

“The current measles outbreak showcases the problem of under-vaccination. It’s a problem that hits close to home for me since 65 measles cases in this outbreak have mainly occurred in Clark County, Washington (a suburb of Portland, Oregon), with four in Multnomah County, Oregon, for a total of 69 confirmed cases of measles. The measles exposure even reached my district, with an infected person from Clark County visiting a trampoline park in Bend, Oregon. Though there have been no confirmed cases resulting from that particular exposure, this highlights the reach of the measles outbreak,” said Walden today. “This hearing can help provide important information to address questions for some people about the safety of the vaccine, as well heighten awareness about the effectiveness of the vaccine and the importance of getting vaccinated.”

Of the 65 cases Walden referred to, 57 involved people who were not vaccinated against the disease, and 47 were children between the ages of one and 10.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measles is a highly contagious virus that can spread through coughing and sneezing. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person, who are not immune, will also become infected. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before to four days after the signature rash appears.

Walden said today that the measles vaccine is highly effective, and there has been a 99 percent reduction in the number of measles cases since the introduction of the measles vaccine compared to pre-vaccine era. CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.

While there has been a dramatic decline in measles cases in the United States, the virus is still common in other countries. Unvaccinated individuals abroad continue to become infected by measles and bring the virus to the United States where it can spread to others. According to the World Health Organization, there were 110,000 measles deaths globally in 2017, mostly among children under the age of five. Measles remains a leading cause of vaccine-preventable infant mortality worldwide.

Walden today expressed his strong concerns that the decline in vaccination poses a danger to public health. “If we don’t reverse the downward trend of vaccination, we risk bringing back measles in full force,” said Walden.

To read Walden’s full remarks during today’s hearing, please click here.