Measles outbreak sparks concern over anti-vaccination movement

Gillian Flaccus  APA sign is posted at The Vancouver Clinic in Vancouver Wash. to warn patients and visitors of a measles outbreak Jan. 30 2019

The region's measles outbreak began in Clark County, Washington, where since January 1, health officials had confirmed 49 cases and suspected nine others as of Tuesday morning.

Multnomah County's communicable disease team checks in daily with people suspected of being exposed to measles to make sure they can work and do other normal life responsibilities without infecting other people. That includes attending church by video feed and working with employers.

Texas allowing parents the choice whether to vaccinate their children does have an impact, Beckham said. Orders for measles vaccine climbed 30 percent in Washington overall, from 12,140 doses in January last year to 15,780 doses in January of this year.

Measles is caused by the measles virus, which can be spread through the air by coughing or sneezing. It is important that you do not visit your GP without first letting him or her know that you or your child may have measles.

Two doses are 97 percent effective, and public health officials in Washington recommend that everyone who is unvaccinated or only received one get both shots to avoid contracting measles. The vaccine can reduce the risk of infection if gotten within 72 hours after exposure to the virus.

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The Portland area is an anti-vaccination hot spot, and state data show only about 77 percent of Clark County kindergarteners had completed their vaccinations for the 2017-2018 school year, far below the roughly 95 percent of people that health experts say should be vaccinated to create "herd immunity" against a contagious disease like measles.

Dr. Patrick Ludke says people in OR are at risk because the vaccination rate is not as good as it could be for measles.

"Before the measles vaccine, we had an increase in measles, and then, when the measles vaccine was created, it started getting more and more people vaccinated", Beckham said.

Health officials said it takes two doses of the MMR vaccine to protect you against Measles, Mumps and Rubella - and it will give you peace of mind if you come down with similar symptoms.

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