Measles outbreak in Pacific Northwest about half of United States cases

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"We must do more to accurately inform every parent, to help us safely vaccinate every child", Fore said.

Measles cases in Ireland increased by 244% between 2017 to 2018, according to UNICEF.

Check your immunization records to make sure you and your children have had two doses of the measles vaccine (MMR or MMRV).

"The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines - threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases", the World Health Organization said in its report.

"These cases haven't happened overnight", said Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF's executive director.

"We have a safe, effective and low-cost vaccine against a highly contagious disease - a vaccine that saved nearly a million lives every year over the last two decades".

Nations that saw the biggest spike in measles cases in 2018 were the Ukraine, with 30,338 reported cases, the Philippines with 13,192, Brazil with 10,262, Yemen with 6,641 and Venezuela with 4,916 people having contracted the illness. The last reported fatal case was in 2015, and the last one before that was 12 years prior.

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"This is just another reason that everybody else that is able to get the vaccine should get it as there is something called herd immunity where people are immunized around them, so people who can not get immunized are protected from the disease", she added. Measles, which was once considered wiped out in the United States thanks to vaccination efforts, is now making a comeback, especially in states with lax vaccination laws. It can live in the air for up to two hours after someone infected coughs or sneezes. Among serious complications, 1 in 20 patients get pneumonia, and 1 in 1,000 get brain swelling that can lead to seizures, deafness or intellectual disability.

UNICEF said statistics by the World Health Organization showed there were 35,120 cases of measles in Ukraine a year ago - a massive rise from about 5,000 in 2017. "Two doses of measles vaccine are about 97 percent effective in preventing measles", said Dr. Christina Tan, state epidemiologist.

"Almost all of these cases are preventable, and yet children are getting infected even in places where there is simply no excuse", Fore said.

This number may soon by trumped in 2019 as NY is now experiencing its worst outbreak in decades and Washington state is fighting one of its own with 66 confirmed cases already for this year, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

Measles is preventable with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Vaccines have eradicated infectious diseases like smallpox, and reduced others such as polio and measles.

UNICEF says in order to fight measles it is issuing an urgent appeal to governments, health care providers, and parents to take action to contain the disease.