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Jul 26

Spread of measles lends extra urgency to keeping up-to-date on vaccines

Posted on July 26, 2019 at 2:08 PM by Katie Combs Prichard

One of the most important things you can do as a parent to ensure the long-term health of your children is to get their vaccinations on time. As every mom and dad knows, schools can be breeding grounds for germs -- but getting your kids’ shots can help prevent some potentially dangerous diseases.

Take measles, for example. Measles is now spreading across the United States in the highest numbers since the disease was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.  From Jan. 1 through late-June, the CDC recorded 1,095 total measles cases across 28 states, including 55 cases in California. Many outbreaks (that is, clusters of three or more cases) have occurred recently across the country, including in New York, California and Washington state.

Because the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine has been so effective in the United States and around the world, the risk of measles is often underestimated, yet it is a highly contagious and serious disease.  Vaccination is the best protection against measles, but a population must have very high vaccination rates to protect the medically fragile and very young children, who are the most vulnerable. Globally, more than 100,000 children die each year (or about 300 per day) from measles infection. Measles can also wreak havoc on the immune system and can cause lifelong disability such as deafness.

If there was any doubt that we could be impacted locally, it was eliminated in March when we confirmed three cases of measles in one family here in Placer County. The cases were linked to a larger outbreak centered in Butte County. Thankfully, no one else contracted the virus at that time. Without vaccines, though, measles spreads very quickly. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 9 out of 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.

Shots including MMR are now required to attend school, and now is the perfect time to get your family’s back-to-school shots. You can learn about required immunizations at shotsforschool.org. Schedule appointments with your child’s pediatrician now - don’t wait until the last minute! - or if you aren’t sure where to go, visit vaccinefinder.com. Families without health insurance or a primary care provider for their children can also call us at 530-889-7128 to make an appointment for one of Placer County’s Back to School clinics scheduled in August.

When it comes to your child’s health, please don’t hesitate and don’t delay. You have the power to protect them against this dangerous disease.

Be Well,

Rob

Dr. Rob, Robert Oldham, is Placer County’s public health officer and lives in Roseville. Contact his office at (530-889-7141.