March 6, 2019—The Washington state measles outbreak is big news right now, but the 55 confirmed cases in Washington are only half of the 101 confirmed measles reported in the US by the CDC in 2019 alone. Most of the recent cases of measles have been in children under the age of 10 who have not been vaccinated.
Just 19 years ago, the CDC declared measles eliminated in the US because more than a year had gone by without continuous transmission of the disease. But now we face a renewed threat, caused by unvaccinated people exposed when they travel to countries with low vaccination rates or when they encounter visitors to the US from such other countries. In 2011, a number of travelers from France brought the virus to this country, according to the CDC. In 2014, nearly 400 people were sickened during a measles outbreak among unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio. In 2015, one infected overseas visitor to Disneyland in California led to 147 measles cases across the United States.
In addition to being one of the world’s most serious infectious viral diseases, measles is also one of the most contagious. The virus can linger
for 2 hours in the air of an enclosed space where an infected person has been. If you carry the measles virus, 90-percent of those near you who have not been vaccinated will also become infected.
Your Shaker Heights Schools Nurses strongly advise all families who have not vaccinated their children against measles to reconsider your decision. A few of the important reasons to vaccinate:
- Vaccination saves lives.
- Vaccination protects the people you care about. Vaccination is not just a personal choice. The vaccinated community helps to protect those who are not vaccinated, a concept known as “herd immunity” or “community immunity.” Simply put, when a person is vaccinated, they prevent disease from being spread to others in the community, including:
- Babies too young to receive vaccines
- Pregnant women who are not immune
- The elderly who are not immune
- Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with asthma, chronic illness, or undergoing treatment for cancer, including some of your children’s fellow students.
- Individuals who can’t vaccinate because they are allergic to vaccine components
- Vaccines are cost effective. Not only do vaccines save lives, they save money, too. It is always cheaper to prevent a disease than to treat it.
- Vaccines are safe.
- The risks of natural infection outweigh the risks of immunization for every recommended vaccine. Parents who choose not to vaccinate often do so to avoid risk, but choosing not to vaccinate can be the riskier choice.