Measles Outbreaks Provide Opportunity for Employers to Promote Vaccinations

Employers’ efforts may include vaccination programs, culturally conscious messaging and reducing spread through flexibility.

Measles outbreaks are climbing in numerous countries across the globe, including the U.S. Measles is a challenge for public health officials as it is a highly contagious disease, transferred through touch and respiration.1 Measles is also a costly disease. In a recent study, a single case of measles can cost $47,479, including direct medical costs (i.e., $1,051 for a single case of measles or more than $25,000 if hospitalized), indirect productivity and public health response costs.2 With no country currently exempt from measles, employers have a role to play in addressing this public health crisis.

What should employers know about measles?

Measles incubation
measles symptoms
Measles floating around a person
Measles immunity
Incubation time:
It can take 7 to 14 days for symptoms to appear.3 Individuals can transmit the virus 4 days before showing symptoms.4
Symptoms include high fever (more than 104° F), cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes followed by white spots in the mouth, and measles rash.3
Measles infections typically last 3 weeks.1,5 Once the rash has appeared, people are typically no longer infectious after four days.6
Disease Communicability
Measles is very infectious; a single patient with measles can spread the virus to as many as 18 others. Once airborne, the virus can remain in the air for 2 hours after an individual with measles has left the area.4
Herd Immunity:
To eradicate measles through herd immunity, the population needs to be 95% vaccinated for measles.7

What is causing the outbreaks?

A combination of factors, including delays in preventive care, vaccine shortages brought on by the pandemic and pediatric vaccination rates reaching historic lows, have coalesced to establish the perfect storm for this increase in measles cases globally.6,8 In addition in a truly globally mobile world, the combination of low vaccination rates and unvaccinated travelers is adding fuel to the outbreaks.4

What can employers do?

Employers have a renewed opportunity to reactivate programs and efforts put in place for COVID-19 and flu to educate employees on prevention through vaccination while addressing the impact of measles on their workforce. First, employes can assist in increasing vaccination rates by conducting regular, targeted communication campaigns encouraging the use of vaccines to parents, especially those in localities with significant outbreaks of measles, flu or other diseases preventable with vaccines. Second, employers can ensure benefits include preventive treatments like vaccinations at no cost to employees and where possible, provide vaccinations at on-site and near-site clinics for employees and dependents. Last, employers can help prevent the spread of communication disease to employees and customers by building supporting alternative work arrangements, encourage employees to take time off when needed to prevent the spread of the disease as well as make sure globally mobile employees are aware of and have all necessary vaccines before traveling.

Related Resources