Fifty-one cases of the measles have been confirmed in an outbreak in Portland, Oregon, and Clark Country in Washington state. Some people are quick to point out that this number is not really significant in a country that has 325.7 million people. But, for the area, which has a 76.5 percent vaccination rate in kindergarteners for the 2017-18 school year, the number is actually alarming.
Already, a public health emergency has been issued by Clark Country regarding the measles outbreak and a website is updated regularly regarding the emergency.
It has also been confirmed that 44 cases of the measles have been reported in unvaccinated people, the vast majority of which are children.
Now, as people are fearing for their safety, it appears there has been a turnaround on the anti-vaccination stance of many people in the area. According to Kaiser Health News, there has been an upsurge in vaccine orders for the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (MMR) and MMR-V, which also protects against the varicella-zoster virus, by nearly 500 percent compared to the same month last year. The state health department figures are indicating that in January of last year, 530 doses were ordered for these vaccines. The number for January of this year is 3,150.
“During an outbreak is when you see an influx of patients who would otherwise be vaccine-hesitant,” said Virginia Ramos, an infection control nurse with Sea Mar Community Health Center.
With such a large increase in vaccine dose requests, the concern is that available doses might not be available, further exacerbating the situation regarding the measles outbreak. However, Virginia Ramos reassures the public that they are prepared for the situation.
“We’re just happy that we’re prepared and that there is vaccine available,” she said.
So far this year, Washington state is averaging more than one new measles case a day.
Since January 1, Clark County has confirmed 47 cases of measles. In King County, home of Seattle, at least one confirmed case has been reported. https://t.co/KLkQnOzoj9
— CNN (@CNN) February 4, 2019
Some would argue that this surge in vaccination against measles and other preventable diseases is a good thing. However, Dr. Alan Melnick, the Clark County health officer overseeing the situation, would rather vaccination be an ongoing situation, not just a knee-jerk reaction to the current threat.
“I would rather it not take an outbreak for this to happen,” he said.
And, it’s not just Clark County that is seeing an increase in measles vaccination requests. Statewide across Washington, there has been an approximate jump by 30 percent when compared to last January.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, in response to the surge in measles vaccination requests, government officials have been prompted to reevaluate the laws regarding vaccine exemption. In addition to that, officials have also sent letters out to families of 5,000 children in Multnomah County urging parents to have their children immunized by February 20, or risk not being able to send their children to school.
For those who are rushing to be immunized, health officials advise that the vaccine takes approximately 72 hours to become effective against the measles virus.