Northwest US measles outbreak prompt look at vaccine exemptions

Randy Kelley
February 2, 2019

Health officials say low vaccination rates in local schools are one big reason for the outbreak, which has been declared a statewide public health emergency.

"What keeps me up at night is eventually having a child die from this completely preventable situation", he said. Thirty-four were not immunised against the disease.

They announced Monday that others could have been infected at the popular Oregon Museum of Science & Industry in Portland and a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the bedroom community of Vancouver, Washington.

So far, none of the patients whose immunization status has been confirmed got their measles vaccination. DOH urges everyone to check their immunization records to verify that they are fully immunized and get vaccinated if they are not already. And the worst part of the measles outbreak would be that this virus is deadly for the majority of newborns and individuals with a weak immune system.

Superintendent of Pullman Schools Bob Maxwell said the district would consider more aggressive tactics if the outbreak were to spread, including barring unvaccinated children from attending school.

Officials still are not sure where the Northwest outbreak began.

Measles is highly contagious, so we lose herd immunity when about 5 percent of the population is unvaccinated.

"What a lot of people don't realize is that it's one of the most contagious viruses we've ever known".

Smith has made an appointment to get him the shot as soon as possible - the day after he turns one.

But the vaccine is less effective in those under a year old which is why it is generally not given to infants.

Smith is angry that those who choose not to vaccinate their children have possibly endangered her son, through no fault of her own.

Measles symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis (red watery eyes) or a runny nose. Symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as seven days and as late as 21 days after exposure.

You can get measles if you go near someone who has the virus because the virus stays for up to two hours in the air of a room where a person with measles has been.

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