About Global Measles

Key points

  • Measles is one of the most contagious diseases known and can lead to serious illness and death.
  • Two doses of measles vaccine can prevent measles.
  • Millions of children have missed measles vaccines, leading to outbreaks around the world.


A baby with measles rash in a hospital bed.
A baby hospitalized with measles in the Philippines, during a large measles outbreak. Credit: James Goodson, CDC.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory virus, one of the most contagious diseases known. One person infected with measles can lead to a dozen other people becoming infected in any community where less than 95% of people have been vaccinated against measles.

Measles anywhere is a threat everywhere.‎

Because measles is so contagious, it can easily cross borders and cause outbreaks in any community where vaccination coverage rates are below 95%.

Measles vaccine coverage ratesA have been declining for years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccination rates began slowly increasing in 2022, but not in low-income countries. Millions of children are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, which has led to large measles outbreaks in every region of the world.

Keep Reading: About Measles

Health impacts

Measles can cause serious illness and death. Children less than 5 years old, and those living in low- and middle- income countries, are the most at risk.

In 2022, there were an estimated 9 million measles cases and 136,000 deaths (mostly children).


The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all countries include 2 doses of measles vaccine in their national immunization programs. Two doses of measles vaccine are 97% effective at preventing measles for life.

Every country in the world includes the first dose of measles vaccine in their national immunization programs. Nearly all countries also include the second vaccine dose.

Vaccine coverage of at least 95% with both doses of measles vaccine prevents outbreaks and protects communities. CDC works with countries and partners to increase vaccination coverage, respond to outbreaks, and support measles elimination activities.


CDC and the World Health Organization publish an annual report on Progress Toward Measles Elimination - Worldwide, 2000 - 2022. Additional reports, including annual regional updates, are available in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Report (MMWR).

Content Source:
Global Immunization
  1. Vaccination coverage is the estimated percentage of people who have received specific vaccines.