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Health

Measles Immunizations Spike in the US Amidst Outbreak


Why Global Citizens Should Care 
Eradicating infectious diseases like the measles is key to providing quality healthcare for all. The US measles outbreak is prompting parents to finally vaccinate their children in Washington state. You can join us in taking action on this issue here

Parents, including anti-vaxxers, are rushing to vaccinate their children against the measles in Clark County, Washington amid the rapidly growing US outbreak despite the disease being declared eradicated in 200, Kaiser Health News reports. Now health centers are scrambling to keep up with the demand.

Take Action: Encourage South Africans to Prioritize Child Health and #VaxTheNation

Since Jan. 1, 50 measles cases have been confirmed in Clark County and 11 more cases are suspected, according to officials. Most of the people infected by the deadly respiratory infection are children under the age of 18 who were unvaccinated. 

While most of the world’s measles deaths, over 95%, occur in countries experiencing poverty with weak healthcare systems, there are currently three ongoing measles outbreaks in the US, with 79 people infected in January alone. The Philippines and Madagascar recently announced they are also currently experiencing new measles crises of their own. 

Washington and Oregon are two of 17 states that allow non-medical exemptions from vaccination requirements for school entry, and declining rates of immunization are largely driven by anti-vaccination propaganda. The anti-vaxxer movement promotes the idea that vaccines cause autism and brain disorders, even though there is no scientific evidence supporting that claim. 

Parents who previously hesitated to inoculate their children have thankfully changed their tune.

Orders for two types of measles vaccines were up nearly 500% in January compared to the same month last year in Clark County, the Washington state health department reported. 

Washington state has also seen a 30% spike in measles vaccines in January compared with the same month last year. These stats only reflect vaccines requested through the federal Vaccines for Children program for children who otherwise can’t afford them. It is unknown how many other vaccines have been requested at cost. 

Virginia Ramos, a nurse at Sea Mar Community Health Center, which is distributing measles vaccines at six locations, said they are prepared for the influx, but one doctor wishes parents vaccinated their children sooner. 

Read More: Everything to Know About the US Measles Outbreak

“I would rather it not take an outbreak for this to happen,” Dr. Alan Melnick, a Clark County health officer said

The vaccine takes 72 to hours to kick in and is 97% effective with two doses, according to health officials. When parents do not vaccinate their children it also harms the population around them, by lowering “herd immunity,” which thwarts outbreaks.  

Authorities in the northwest are cracking down in response to the outbreak. In Multnomah County, Oregon, officials issued 5,000 letters to families warning them their children will not be allowed to attend school if they aren’t caught up with immunizations or have legitimate exemptions. Washington state representative Paul Harris is working to mandate a ban on personal belief exemptions for the measles vaccine. 

The world has improved measles prevention over the past two decades –– about 85% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday, up from 72% in 2000.