The Measles vaccination is part of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella), which has been targeted by anti-vaxers.
2011 is on track to be the worst year for measles cases in more than a decade. Although the Centers for Disease Control declared the highly infectious and potentially fatal disease “eliminated” from the US in the early 2000s, it continues to spread, with the highest number of cases this early in the year since 1996, the CDC reported this week
In the first 19 weeks of this year, 118 cases in 23 states have been reported, compared to a median of 56 cases a year between 2001 and 2008, according to the CDC… 40 percent of patients required hospitalization, with babies and kids under age five the most severely affected. In Europe, there’s been a far larger outbreak, with 33 countries battling measles. France has been hit by an epidemic of nearly 10,000 cases in the first four months of 2011.
Before [the vaccine] was available, 3 to 4 million Americans came down with measles annually, of whom 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized and 1,000 were chronically disabled from encephalitis. In countries where vaccine isn’t widely available, the disease killed 242,000 people, mainly kids, in 2006.
One thing that is confusing about the article is that it says 40% of people with measles are hospitalized (which could put a significant cost on the health care system), but later, it says that before the vaccine, 3-4 million Americans got measles annually and 48,000 were hospitalized (which would be a rate just over 1%). Then again, maybe doctors are far more likely to recommend hospitalizing patients with measles in 2011 than they were pre-1970 – because they can watch for complications and prevent deaths.