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Local doctor concerned about increase of measles cases as pandemic continues

"The rates of vaccination have gone way down."
Posted at 12:37 PM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 12:37:34-05

INDIANAPOLIS — One ripple effect of this year’s coronavirus pandemic is an increase in measles cases.

In 2000, measles was declared as "eliminated" in America. However, in 2019, the country hit a high of more than 1,200 cases.

So, why is there a resurgence? WRTV’s Megan Shinn asks the experts who say Hoosiers are at risk.

Dr. Chandy John is a pediatrician and infectious disease physician; IU’s School of Medicine, and he wants to warn Hoosiers about the growing danger of Measles.

"It’s more contagious than COVID. Measles is very contagious,” said Doctor John. He said, "It can kill children and still does. Many thousands of children worldwide. So, it can be a terrible disease."

Even though it's contagious, catching it is preventable with the Measles Mumps and Rubella vaccine.

However, Doctor John said with the pandemic, "The rates of vaccination have gone way down,” he said that’s because people are worried about catching coronavirus at the doctor's office.

So, he’s on a mission to reassure people, "Your risk of COVID going to a doctor's office is low. So, get your kids immunized. That is number one, by far the most important thing I can say,” said Doctor John.

He predicts measles will spread quickly when COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

"Then we have a real risk of kind of a Measles wildfire."

Doctor John said he knows some people question vaccinations.

"And it's our work is pediatricians to let them know the facts about it and that is safe, and if they don't vaccinate, they not only put their child but a lot of other children at risk,” said Doctor John.

His message is an effort to avoid reverse situations he's seen over-seas, where people don't have access to a vaccine and face a measles outbreak.

"In places where people know that it's bad, they are fighting to be vaccinated. We just need to have that same thing here, like get in and get vaccinated,” said Doctor John.

Measles is spread through contact with throat or nose droplets when people sneeze or cough.

Signs of Measles include a whole-body rash, fever, pink eye, and runny nose.