Fast Facts: Global Measles

At a glance

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory virus that can cause serious disease and death. Measles vaccines are safe and effective at preventing measles — and are among some of the most cost-effective vaccines. However, millions of children worldwide have missed measles vaccines.


A mother holds her young son as a health worker gives a vaccine to the child.
A Nigerian mother gets her son vaccinated against measles. ©UNICEF/U.S.CDC/ UN0669643/Owoicho.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases known. One person infected with measles can lead to a dozen other people becoming infected in communities that are not fully vaccinated. Measles can easily cross borders and cause outbreaks.

Following years of declines in measles vaccination coverageA, measles cases in 2022 increased by 18% and deaths increased by 43% globally (compared to 2021). In 2022, nearly 33 million children missed at least one lifesaving measles vaccine dose.


Measles infections can have serious complications, including:

  • pneumonia
  • encephalitis (brain inflammation)
  • loss of sight or hearing
  • death

Children less than 5 years old, and those living in low- and middle- income countries, are at the highest risk of severe complications and death.


Measles vaccines are one of the most cost-effective vaccines available: 2 doses of this vaccine costs less than $2 per child. Vaccination coverage of at least 95% prevents measles outbreaks.

These safe and effective vaccines have been in use for more than 50 years. Between 2000 - 2022, measles vaccines saved an estimated 57 million lives worldwide.

What CDC is doing

CDC works with countries and partners worldwide on activities to improve vaccination coverage and eliminate measles.

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