State bill introduced to nix personal exemptions for measles vaccine

Desiree Burns
January 29, 2019

Health officials in Washington have declared a state of emergency and are urging immunization as they scramble to contain a measles outbreak in two counties, while the number of cases of the potentially deadly virus continues to climb in a region with lower than normal vaccination rates.

As of Sunday afternoon, no measles cases have been confirmed in Spokane County but people should get vaccinated as soon as possible just in case, Kim Papich, spokeswoman for the Spokane Regional Health District, said.

Officials say 30 of the patients were not vaccinated against the highly contagious disease and in four cases it's unclear whether the person was vaccinated. Of those cases, 24 confirmed cases involved children 10 years or younger, and nine more involved children between the ages of 11 and 18, ABC News reported. At the time there were 26 confirmed measles cases.

In a health alert from King County, it was said the man had recently traveled to Clark County. The outbreak has also made officials in the Portland area declare an emergency.

People with measles are usually quite ill.

There are now 35 cases in Clark County alone, and there are more than 50 places in Washington confirmed as a "public exposure location" where a person with measles may have exposed others include retail outlets, schools, churches, and grocery stores.

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Measles is a contagious virus that spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing.

Washington state officials are now beginning the arduous and costly task of tracking down everyone who might have been exposed to the infection and cautioning them to be on the alert for symptoms, including runny nose, red eyes, fever and rash. Studies show nearly 30 percent of children younger than five who get the measles will have to be hospitalized, reports CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas.

Thanks to the effectiveness of the measles vaccine, measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.

There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The proportion of children receiving no vaccine doses by 2 years old rose from 0.9% among those born in 2011 to 1.3% among those born in 2015, the CDC reported in October. The measles vaccine is available as a combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, and is available from your local health unit, family doctor, and many pharmacists.

Children traveling overseas may need to be vaccinated before their first birthday, and women who are hoping to become pregnant should discuss vaccinations with their health care provider, as the MMR vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy.

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