RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The ongoing measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest that prompted the declaration of a public health emergency in Washington State has health officials in Washoe County urging everyone to ensure they are vaccinated or otherwise protected against the highly contagious disease.
"This is a very dangerous situation, and I don't think people fully appreciate how difficult and dangerous it is”, says Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control. “This is one of the most highly contagious diseases out there, but it's balanced against one of the most effective vaccines out there, [which is] 97% effective. Pre-vaccine, measles was the cause of deafness, encephalitis or death for some children. People have forgotten how they "were clamoring" for a vaccine,” he says.
Health officials say vaccination is especially important if travel is planned to outbreak areas or foreign countries, but that vaccination is very important for the entire population, since someone who has been exposed where an outbreak is occurring could become infected and transmit the disease in our community upon traveling here.
Washoe County Health District officials note that measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person can get measles just by being in a room where an infected person has been. According to the CDC, approximately one in four people in the United States who gets measles will require hospitalization.
CDC says the best protection against measles is the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The MMR vaccine is typically given to children in two doses, at 12 months and between 4 and 6 years of age. One dose of the MMR vaccine is about 93-percent effective at preventing illness. Two doses are about 97 percent effective at preventing illness, according to the CDC.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people are already considered protected from the measles if they have at least one of the following:
Written documentation of adequate vaccination
One or more doses of a measles-containing vaccine administered on or after the first birthday for preschool-aged children and adults who are not at-risk.
Two doses of measles-containing vaccine for school-aged children and adults at high-risk, including college students, health care personnel, and international travelers.
Laboratory confirmation that they had measles at some point during their life.
Laboratory confirmation that they are immune to measles.
They were born before 1957.
If you need an MMR vaccination, contact your health care provider or schedule an appointment for the vaccine with the Washoe County Health District at 1001 East Ninth Street in Reno, by calling (775) 328-2441. The Immunization Clinic is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - noon and 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Appointments are required for immunizations.