Washington State measles outbreak update

Cassandra Hays, Scene Editor

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Dr. Jerome Adams, 20th Surgeon General of the United States, visited the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Seattle on March 7 to discuss the current measles outbreak in Washington state.

Since Jan. 1, the Washington State Department of Health has identified 71 cases of measles, with 70 cases being in Clark county and one case being in King county. According to Surgeon General Adams, measles is one of the most contagious known diseases. One in 1000 people who contract measles will die. Nearly every case of measles reported in Washington was contracted by an unvaccinated individual, according to General Adams.

Around nine percent of people in the United States do not vaccinate, according to Surgeon General Adams.

He added that people may choose not to vaccinate for many reasons, including lack of transportation, a busy schedule and a lack of education on the subject of vaccines. Parents may be hesitant to vaccinate their children because they fear for their child’s safety and do not have access to information on the subject.

“At the end of the day, I think every parent just wants what’s best for their kids,” Surgeon General Adams said.

To foster a conversation with vaccine-resistant individuals, Surgeon General Adams stressed that remaining respectful and culturally sensitive when educating people about vaccines is fundamental. He said that the number one reason people choose to vaccinate is due to trust in their provider, especially in regards to their ability to represent and support their needs.

House Bill 1638 passed on March 5 with a vote of 57-40. The bill would remove the philosophical or personal exemption from the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Surgeon General Adams spoke out in support of the bill, and added that it needs to be easier for people to get vaccinated than it is to opt out.

While the spread of measles is slowing down, there is no way to tell if the outbreak has ended until 42 days after the last case is diagnosed. The date of the last confirmed case of measles in Washington is March 2.

Surgeon General Adams emphasized that it is important for individuals to honor their social contract and do their part to create a safe and healthy environment for all by getting vaccinated.

“I just want legislators and other folks to be able to make an informed decision based on science,” Surgeon General Adams said. “The measles vaccine is safe, it is effective, and we have to make it easier for people to get vaccinated than [it is] for them to get exemptions.”

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