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Health Officials Scramble To Contain Measles Outbreak

31 January 2019

As of Friday, Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in Washington state in response to more than two dozen confirmed cases of measles.

The majority of those infected were children, with 25 of the 35 confirmed cases impacting children under 10 years old. At least 31 of those sick were not vaccinated. The county has a vaccination rate of 78 per cent, well below the level necessary to protect those with compromised immune systems or those who can't get vaccinated because of medical issues or because they are too young. The measles virus is so contagious that it can live on surfaces and in the air for up to two hours.

Nurses say getting the vaccine is incredibly important and the vaccine for measles is 97 percent effective.

Thirty-one patients had not been vaccinated against measles, and the status of four others who were infected is not known.

Counties like King are at 91 percent, Snohomish 90.2 percent and Pierce 92.1 percent.

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Here's why the current outbreak in Washington is a ideal example of what can happen when parents do not vaccinate their children for philosophical or religious reasons - and how exactly that can put their own kids, and others, at risk.

An outbreak like the one in Washington shows how easily the disease can spread among unvaccinated children and that once there is a pocket of the measles, it can easily spread.

But for those people who choose not to vaccinate their kids, one state lawmaker is trying to change that. By 2017-2018, only 84 percent of kindergartners had. The vaccine-exemption rate in Clark County for non-medical reasons was high, at 7.5 percent, Armstrong said. The current law in place allows parents to decline immunization for children based on "philosophical or personal objections", health risks as confirmed by a licensed physician, or religious beliefs.

OR and Washington are among these states that allow for personal belief exemptions.

The State of Alaska has a whole website dedicated to Measles. It's spread through those common winter companions, sneezing and coughing.

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The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reports that symptoms typically surface a week to two weeks after an individual becomes infected with measles, which is why people are unlikely to know they're infected right away and may spread it themselves.

She also acknowledges that it can be hard for parents to navigate the amount of information available online and that misinformation and fear about vaccines have spread widely. The first dose is to be administered between ages of 12 and 15 months and the second between ages 4 and 6 years.

"The message that we give to people is, please immunize your children".

If you think you or your child is exposed to measles doctors urge patients to call ahead before showing up to a clinic or the ER, because it would put other patients at risk.

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Health Officials Scramble To Contain Measles Outbreak