Reader letter: Being vaccine-hesitant is a health threat

Jeff Mc Intosh  The Canadian Press

Jeff Mc Intosh The Canadian Press

Jefferson County residents are expressing concerns about vaccinations now that a confirmed case of measles has been reported in the county.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause complications including blindness and brain swelling and increase susceptibility to other diseases.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. People are considered infectious from 5 days before, until 5 days after, the rash first appears.

It said the best protection from the disease was for people to have two doses (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations.

"To maintain herd immunity, communities have to vaccinate enough residents to protect the small number of people who can not receive a vaccination for medical reasons", said Ashley Franks, Erie County Health Department epidemiologist. Health officials recommend you call ahead to make sure locations have the vaccinations and staffing available to immunize you. In Clark County, WA, at least 50 cases of measles - 47 of those were not vaccinated.

The Canterbury district health board said in a statement, "Unimmunized people who come within two meters of an infectious person, however briefly, have a 90% chance of contracting measles". She says two doses of the vaccine provides 97 percent immunity to the disease.

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With Canterbury health centers running out of vaccines since the start of the outbreak in late February, 3,000 MMR vaccines had been brought by Sunday (March 10) and 18,000 more are to be delivered to the region by Wednesday.

Reynolds says the reason we are seeing a measles outbreak is because people have stopped vaccinating their children in fear of autism.

"The MMR vaccine is very effective and it's free", he said.

Colvin said about one in four people throughout the United States who get the measles will be hospitalized and one out of every 1,000 measles patients will develop brain swelling which could lead to brain damage.

Anyone with measles symptoms or who believes they may have been exposed, can contact their usual general practice 24/7 for additional advice.

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