Washington Is In A State Of Emergency Over Measles Outbreak

by Julie Scagell
Image via south_agency/Getty Images

There are 35 confirmed cases of measles in the state of Washington

The governor of the state of Washington has declared a state of emergency after 35 confirmed cases of measles were reported.

“Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children,” Gov. Jay Inslee said over the weekend, and can cause “an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties.” Officials report that 30 of the cases were people who weren’t immunized for the disease. Four of the cases are unknown as far as vaccine status. Of the 34 cases, 24 are kids between ages 1 and 10. Clark county has nine suspected cases.

According to CNN, one person infected with measles attended a Portland Trail Blazers home game during the outbreak. Others visited airports, schools, stores, restaurants, and churches, leaving an untold number at risk of infection.

Now is the time anti-vaxxers will come with the “If your kid is vaccinated, why worry about mine who isn’t. Your kid is protected.” One last time from the cheap seats – some kids are at risk because they’re too young to be vaccinated or have an actual medical reason which doesn’t allow them to be vaccinated. Sometimes vaccines don’t work. Also, kids don’t typically get their first MMR until they are a year old and their second when they are between the ages of four to six. Your unvaccinated kid is putting them at risk. Period.

According to the CDC, as many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from this preventable disease. One or two of every 1,000 children who get measles will die from complications.

The anti-vaxx movement is a major concern, so much so the the World Health Organization named “vaccine hesitancy” as a top 10 biggest global health threat in 2019. According to the organization, this trend threatens to “reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases,” which were declared eliminated in 2000 in the U.S. Unvaccinated kids two years or younger rose from 0.9% among those born in 2011 to 1.3% among those born in 2015, the CDC reported.

Because of the state of emergency, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has implemented an infectious disease Incident Management Structure to manage public health concerns and reports through investigations and lab testing. Many other departments will have to coordinate their resources, funding, and efforts as well.

“The measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease when given prior to exposure, and proactive steps to provide the vaccination and other measures must be taken quickly to prevent further spread of the disease,” the website said.

Bottom line — vaccinating your child is crucial. It’s critical to their health and the health of those around them. This outbreak should scare everyone. It’s not the first, and it certainly won’t be the last.