Another measles outbreak
My state, Washington, has one of the highest vaccine opt out rates in the country.
Thanks to a recent outbreak of measles here, a state of emergency has been declared and legislators have introduced a bill to eliminate the personal exemption for the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella).
Washington is one of only 18 states that allows parents to refuse vaccinations for their kids for no good reason.
Several communities in the Greater Seattle area actually boast of the low vaccination rate among their children.
Measles was eliminated in this country around 2002. But then rogue scientist Andrew Wakefield published a bogus research paper connecting the MMR vaccine with autism. Scared parents not only refused the MMR, but other vaccines as well.
We need strong herd immunity
Some children cannot receive vaccinations because of legitimate health problems. They rely on “herd immunity” in the community to stay healthy themselves. If enough people in a community aren’t vaccinated, everyone is more vulnerable to diseases like the measles.
Public health experts say a community needs a 90-95% immunization rate for herd immunity. In Washington, we’re at around 90% for all vaccines, but the MMR rate is only about 85% among kindergartners.
That means when one child or adult gets measles, the virus spreads farther and faster.
Measles is still common in other countries
Every year I read about people traveling overseas and coming home with the measles.
The first symptoms are unremarkable: fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes. It takes about 5 days for the telltale rash to appear, and by then the patient has spread the virus through at least two airports, an airplane and multiple other shops or restaurants.
Measles is highly contagious and spread through coughing and sneezing. If a person seeks medical attention and is diagnosed with measles, the public health department gets involved. Health officials use news and social media to reach out to anyone who may have come into contact with the sick individual.
We had this happen in Seattle just last summer. The infected individual was returning from a trip to Asia.
Get vaccinated before traveling overseas
Europe is seeing a record number of measles outbreaks. Asia, Africa and the Pacific islands are also measles hot spots.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers advice for overseas travelers.
Make Sure You’re Protected against Measles before International Travel
Before any international travel—
- Infants 6 months through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine.†
- Children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.
- Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity* against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.
† Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose at least 28 days later).
* Acceptable presumptive evidence of immunity against measles includes at least one of the following: written documentation of adequate vaccination, laboratory evidence of immunity, laboratory confirmation of measles, or birth in the United States before 1957.
Just get vaccinated. Period.
Stay up-to-date with recommended vaccinations!
For more information on all vaccines, as well as immunization schedules for kids and adults, check out the CDC’s Vaccine and Immunization web page.
Or talk to your health care provider.
I also have more links about vaccines and vaccine safety on my Resources page, and have written several posts on the topic.
Keep yourself, your kids and your community protected from the measles (and lots of other diseases…).
Related post: Being thankful for modern medicine