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The Recent Measles and Mumps Outbreaks and their Impact on Organizations

The Recent Mumps Outbreak and Its Impact on Higher Education Institutions

When someone chooses to not become vaccinated, any subsequent outbreaks of the illness can have drastic effects on the entire community. Many people are naturally immune to the MMR (Mumps, Measles, and Rubella) vaccination, meaning that they are not protected unless others around them have been properly vaccinated.


From the beginning of the year until October 11th, 2019, 2,618 cases of mumps have been noted in 48 states and the District of Columbia. This is about a third of the 6,366 annual cases that were reported with the various mumps outbreaks of 2016 and 2017, but it is still a significant enough number that it can hinder society in a few ways. Though the 2019 outbreak is on a smaller scale than previous ones, it can seriously prohibit the productivity of most people.


Mumps is an illness that can affect someone for over two weeks, causing them to be incredibly sick and therefore not fit for most activities. Though a majority of those affected by the illness will recover in about two weeks, mumps can permanently harm someone or even be fatal. The sickness is also highly contagious, with medical professionals recommending that those infected should not go near other people for at least five days after their salivary glands started swelling. This is because mumps is often contagious through contact, making anybody within proximity of the illness potentially threatened.


The outbreak of mumps affects higher education institutions because students and staff who become infected are at risk of spreading the illness to others. On top of this, many people do not know that they are infected with mumps until about two to four weeks after contracting the illness, providing a window during which it is possible to infect others without noticing.


In recent years, higher education institutions have experienced outbreaks of illnesses and diseases that are preventable with proper vaccinations. Starting with 3 cases in September and rising to over 40 cases in November, the College of Charleston campus experienced a mumps outbreak. Even though they require a mumps vaccination for admittance, students can submit a waiver form.


To prevent outbreaks of communicable diseases, higher education institutions should have events to promote vaccinations where information on the benefits of vaccinations are given out and vaccinations are offered to students and staff.

The Measles Outbreak and Its Impact on Employment

The fears of illness are very real in workplaces as the measles becomes more common and more likely to spread among employees. In some places, employees have contracted measles and come to work. Though major outbreaks because of this have yet to occur, it is still a risk, and one of which all employees deserve to be aware of. In general, it is not legal for employers to mandate that their employees have the measles vaccine, which means that they must encourage vaccinations through other routes, and many professionals recommend that employees be allowed to receive the vaccine while on the clock. This threat to the workplace continues to grow as the now non-vaccinated children grow into non-vaccinated adults.

In 2019, the highest number of measles cases was reported as 342 individuals in April. Although, at least ten cases have been reported in every other month except for September, with only six reported cases. This year is the largest outbreak of measles since the year 1992, and the disease has spread mostly in groups of people who have not received the MMR vaccine, which provides immunity against it. The outbreak began in New York, and other states have since reported outbreaks. Many other states have had cases of measles that did not result in a major outbreak. All cases seem to be linked though because they are all caused by two strains.


At over 1200 cases, 2019 had four times the amount of reported measles cases as 2018. The largest risk for measles continuing to spread in the USA is larger amounts of people leaving the country and bringing measles back and the increased number of people who have never been vaccinated. In December alone, 5 airports reported travelers who came through their terminals while sick with measles. At O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, IL, the same traveler, contagious with measles, passed through on 2 separate occasions only 5 days apart. Given the number of travelers who pass through an airport daily, having a contagious traveler exposes so many people to measles.


The CDC is urging healthcare practitioners to constantly review why the MMR vaccine is effective and the importance to patients. Providers are also encouraged to counter misinformation surrounding this vaccine, and others, with scientific facts. As measles spreads in major metropolitan centers, it is increasingly likely to infiltrate workplaces, which could bring many factors of the economy grinding to a halt. Measles, which can wipe out the immune system, leaves people more vulnerable to other diseases. This will inevitably increase the number of workdays missed, decrease employee productivity, and lower team morale. In other words, measles is terrible for business.


Some scientists recommend employing a campaign to eradicate measles globally because controlling outbreaks of the disease is hard due to it being easy to spread. Beyond the difficulty in controlling a measles outbreak, outbreaks are also expensive. Epidemiologists must spend money to access the materials needed to control the outbreak, patients must utilize more resources to pay for their illness, and more money is taken from society in general to cover all these costs. Ultimately, measles makes for a bad cocktail of destruction for humans and their economy. A weakened economy typically means that consumers spend less on services, which continues to weaken the economy and harm those who provide services. In the workplace specifically, this can cause employers to be agitated and more critical, and it can cause employers to lose morale and become burned out.


The measles outbreaks are going to be incredibly detrimental to workplace environments. They increase the likelihood that employees will need to take time off for illness and reduce how hard employees work when at work. This usually means that the employer is not meeting company goals. Measles also introduces a little fear to the workplace as employees and employers alike do not necessarily know if they have been exposed to the disease. This can create distrust and decreased productivity, again harming the company.

How Vaccines Affect Employment

Vaccines are just as important in the workplace as they are in the general population. Employers will experience higher productivity since employees will need fewer sick days and improved workplace morale since illness will be less common. Employees will not need to worry about missing many days of work due to illness, will have higher morale, and will have improved general health. Each of these leads to a healthy employer-employee relationship and increased productivity for the company. Employers will greatly benefit by preventing the spread of diseases, and this can be done in a few ways.

Employers may organize a flu vaccination clinic, providing free flu vaccines to all employees. This works best when employees do not need to clock-out, can also bring their family for vaccinations, and have a goal number of vaccinations administered set by the employer. Offering refreshments at a comfortable and clean clinic is another great incentive for an employee to receive the vaccination. The clinic should also be promoted with articles in newsletters, posters hung around the workplace, social media posts, or an even more creative approach.


Vaccination is critical in individuals who will be working closely with individuals who are highly susceptible to diseases. This includes most healthcare professionals and individuals who provide other services that involve human-to-human contact. This includes people who work behind the scenes in these fields because, if not vaccinated, they may be bringing the disease to the place of employment and exposing the vulnerable individuals to it. In some cases, it is legal to require that employees be vaccinated, but organizations considering enforcing such a policy should work with an attorney to ensure that it is done within legal parameters. Regardless, people working in sectors that require some form of service to other people should always be up-to-date on their vaccinations.

An Overview of Vaccinations

Over 200 years ago, Edward Jenner invented vaccines by using cowpox to protect a child from getting smallpox. In doing this, Jenner invented one of the most influential medical techniques in history and saved millions of lives. The rates of many communicable diseases have gone down due to vaccinations, and the world’s health is vastly improved. In fact, smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, which would have been utterly implausible without vaccines. Sadly, bad science has recently led some people to believe that vaccines are ineffective or even dangerous. Because of this, it is important to understand what vaccines are, how they affect employment and higher education institutions, and how they are involved with the recent outbreaks of measles.

Vaccinations are preparations of antigens that are introduced to the body to prime the immune system to fight off the real disease should the person encounter it. Most vaccinations are given as injections; although, some vaccinations, such as Albert Sabin’s oral polio vaccine, can be administered in different ways. Regardless of the route of administration, vaccinations encounter immune cells in the body, and the immune cells begin to proliferate in response. Some of the new immune cells will be sent throughout the body to find and eliminate the rest of the invader. The other immune cells, referred to as memory immune cells, will be stored in the body so that they can attack the same invader should the person being vaccinated encounter it in the future.


An example of this would be the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine contains killed flu viruses that are injected into a person’s body. Within the body, the viral particles are distributed through the bloodstream, where they begin to encounter immune cells. The immune cells will develop a protein by altering its genetic coding that contains a site that fits the viral particle almost perfectly.


It can be hard to appreciate how important vaccines are in developed countries because the diseases they protect us against are incredibly rare. As some people are beginning to lose trust in vaccinations, fewer vaccinations are being administered, and more diseases are popping up. The measles, declared eliminated from the USA in 2000, has had many recent outbreaks because the measles vaccination rate is on the decline. Beyond just affecting children, adults need vaccines to be protected from infectious diseases too, especially since the immune system becomes progressively weaker with age.


When properly used, vaccines create immunity to a disease, which prevents the vaccinated from becoming ill and spreading the disease to other people. However, when people are not vaccinated, they are much more likely to fall ill and share the disease. Vaccinations are even important for people who are unable to receive them because having a higher vaccination rate, in general, prevents the disease from showing up in the community. People who fall into this category include some infants, people using immunosuppressant drugs, people undergoing cancer treatment, and others.


Vaccinations are one of the greatest inventions to ever influence the field of medicine and the world as a whole. Some people are being heavily influenced by bad science that has since been falsified hundreds of times, but this is still leading to greatly reduced rates of vaccination. Recently, measles and mumps has been starting to break out more commonly in the USA and throughout the world. This is greatly impacting workplaces and educational intuitions by introducing fear for everyone. Productivity decreases when people are ill, but organizations are unable to mandate that people are vaccinated in most cases. As the amount of communicable diseases cases increases, organizations are more likely to be exposed to and experience outbreaks of measles and mumps. Vaccinations are more important now than ever before.