Why is Texas at the Center of an Impending Measles Outbreak? January 25, 2017 By Josh Martinez Leave a Comment Like a vintage rock band ready to start a reunion tour, measles are about to make a comeback. At least, that’s the worry of researchers monitoring disease control. But first, let’s back up a bit. Throughout the 1900s, measles was like chicken pox in its near certainty for contraction. The disease was highly contagious and children were likely to get measles at some point during adolescence. In the 1960s, doctors made a breakthrough, crafting a vaccine for the disease. After some quick improvements, the measles vaccine earned a reputation for effectiveness. It is now widely recommended. This vaccine, that also prevents mumps and rubella, spread worldwide in the coming decades. The CDC set a goal to eliminate measles within the coming years. After a few hiccups, outbreaks and a need for booster doses, the organization achieved the feat. In 2000, the CDC declared measles eliminated throughout the United States. They credited a vaccination program that provided nearly every person with resistance to measles. As the decade wore on though, vaccinations were no longer universal. Small pockets of people opted out of the MMR vaccine and measles cases rose. Since 2011 there’s been over 100 reported measles cases almost every year, with a peak of 667 cases in 2014. Depending on the state, legislature may give parents the option whether to vaccinate their children. These vaccination laws are bringing Texas to the forefront of the measles comeback. Although standard immunizations are required for a child to attend public schools in Texas, exemptions are available. This could come from a doctor’s note or a choice by the parents based on beliefs or personal reasons. Despite these laws, most children in Texas are still vaccinated. Depending on the vaccine, 98 percent of public school children get routine immunizations. But, much like with the attempt to eradicate measles in the 1980s, pockets of people without vaccines are helping the disease’s growth. More and more people throughout Texas are choosing to use those exemptions. A little more 2,000 people used these exemptions in 2003 compared to nearly 45,000 in 2016. While state officials are fighting to remove the law that allows for exemptions, locals in favor of the law are vocal and growing. This is where medical officials and scientists are afraid of future outbreaks. Measles does not need long exposure to spread. When someone has the disease, 90 percent of nearby people who aren’t immune will be infected. As more parents continue to use these exemptions and opt out of vaccines, the group of unvaccinated children grows. There will be larger pockets of people vulnerable to measles in a specific area. If one person contracts the disease, it could spread like wildfire throughout a group, neighborhood or school. The MMR vaccine does protect from three diseases, but measles is the most dangerous of the trio. Mumps and rubella are fairly mild in children, while measles has a history of serious long-term effects. The disease can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, deafness and even death. Are you looking for more information about the MMR vaccine? Call Passport Health at or schedule an appointment online. Any questions or comments about measles and possible outbreaks? Let us know in the comments, or via Facebook and Twitter.