LANE COUNTY, Ore. – Concern over the measles outbreak is growing, as thirty six cases are now confirmed in Clark County, Washington alone.
We talked to Lane County Public Health officials who say vaccination rates in our area could be dangerous if the disease were to spread.
While Washington state is facing an outbreak of measles, you might think our relatively high rate of vaccination in Lane County will be of help, but public health officials say that number many not be high enough should measles spread to our backyard.
Ninety-three percent of school aged kids in Lane County are vaccinated
“Our rate has been steadily creeping up just slightly, so we’re up to about seven percent exemption right now,” said Jason Davis, the public information officer at Lane County Public Health.
Ninety-five percent and above is ideal because that’s when a majority of the population is covered- prevent disease from spreading
“We think of the rash and you think how can a sneeze spread the measles,” said Davis. “Well measles actually starts off with cold like symptoms where you’re sneezing, you’re coughing and run a high fever and then it turns into the rash later on.”
Kids from birth to age five are the most vulnerable to dying from measles when not vaccinated.
You can choose to opt out, but if you do, your child will have to stay at home if an outbreak like measles makes its way into the area.
“You’ll go from one case to hundreds and thousands of cases very quickly,” said Kim Roellig, the nurse at Churchill High School. “It’s just extremely contagious.”
The CDC says the disease can stay on surfaces for more than two hours and 90% of the people close to those infected who are not immune people can become infected.
“We have schools that have very low vaccination rates and that’s a philosophical and ideological perspective that families have chosen to take,” said Roellig. “I can’t speak against that but those are communities that are very at risk for a measles outbreak.”
Roellig also notes that some who chose to opt out do so for medical reasons but every person must decide that’s best for them.
“I encourage people that are considering not having their family vaccinated to really educate themselves on the known risks of the vaccine and compare that to the known risks of the disease,” said roellig.
It’s recommended for children to get their measles shots between 12 and 15 months old.
If you decide to not get your child vaccinated, exclusion day is coming up on February 20th.