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As Measles Outbreak Continues, Calls For Vaccination Grow Louder46:53
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Signs posted at The Vancouver Clinic in Vancouver, Wash., warn patients and visitors of a measles outbreak on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. The outbreak has sickened 39 people in the Pacific Northwest, with 13 more cases suspected. At least one patient who was sick with the measles has come to this clinic for treatment since the outbreak began Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
Signs posted at The Vancouver Clinic in Vancouver, Wash., warn patients and visitors of a measles outbreak on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. The outbreak has sickened 39 people in the Pacific Northwest, with 13 more cases suspected. At least one patient who was sick with the measles has come to this clinic for treatment since the outbreak began Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

Measles cases mount in the Pacific Northwest, where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the nation. Now, lawmakers want to tighten some of those personal belief exemptions.

Guests

John Wiesman, Washington state secretary of health. (@WaHealthSec)

Rep. Paul Harris, Republican state representative in Clark County, Washington. Sponsor of a bill that would eliminate personal or philosophical exemptions from vaccinations in Washington.

Michelle Mello, professor of law and health research and policy at Stanford University. (@MichelleM_Mello)

From The Reading List

NPR: "In A Measles Outbreak, Demand For Vaccine Spikes" — "More than 50 people have now been infected by the measles in an outbreak across southwest Washington state and northwest Oregon, and doctors and nurses say it's spurring people to get vaccinated.

"At Sea Mar Community Health Center in Vancouver, Wash., administrator Shawn Brannan says that so many have been coming in for a measles shot recently that they had to order almost 10 times as much vaccine as usual.

"'Larger populations that typically don't vaccinate their children for their own reasons are now in a mad dash, if you will, to get vaccinated,' says Brannan.

"He said many patients are from the former Soviet Union, where distrust of government runs deep.

"But he says the clinic is also getting lots of other patients with their own reasons not to vaccinate."

NBC News: "Amid measles outbreak, some unvaccinated teens are seeking ways to get their shots" — "Some teenagers who have never been vaccinated against diseases such as measles or chickenpox are questioning the anti-vaccine movement, even as health officials condemn parents who chose not to vaccinate their children for a measles outbreak in 10 states.

"One of those teens is Mayci, an 18-year-old from Augusta, Georgia who went to Reddit for advice on vaccination after hearing about the measles outbreak.

"Mayci — who asked that her last name not be included because she's worried about upsetting her mother — had never had a vaccine. The reason? Her mother's position, 'vaccines are bad, this is something we don’t do, leave it alone,' the teen told NBC News."

USA Today: "A quarter of all kindergartners in this county in Washington aren’t immunized. Now there’s a measles crisis" — "Measles outbreaks in New York and Washington state have public health officials scrambling to contain a disease that was eliminated in the USA nearly two decades ago.

"Washington state declared a public emergency in the wake of an outbreak in Clark County that has infected at least 53 people, mostly children. Four cases have been confirmed in neighboring Multnomah County, Oregon. Another case has been identified in King County, which includes Seattle.

"Clark County public health officials have long feared a measles outbreak could spread rapidly given the county's cluster of non-vaccinated children.

"Nearly one in four Clark County kindergarten students during the 2017-18 school year did not get all their immunizations, according to data from the Washington Department of Health. At three schools in the county, more than 40 percent of kindergartners did not receive all recommended shots before starting school."

Washington Post: "Opinion: Measles was eliminated. But we can’t be sure it’ll stay that way." — "Measles was officially declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, meaning that the transmission of this infection was no longer endemic. Since then, measles has mostly occurred as outbreaks — either because of imported cases or among those who come in contact with these cases. And indeed, there is a growing measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest, which has led the governor of Washington to declare a state of emergency.

"Since the disease was eliminated, an average of 124 cases have been reported in the United States per year. That’s relatively low, compared with the 5,307 cases per year in the 12 years before elimination. But several of the recent outbreaks have attracted public attention. While there have been outbreaks involving multiple states, such as what was known as the Disneyland outbreak in 2015 with 147 cases in seven states, there has not been a recent sustained national-level measles epidemic in the United States.

"Are these recent measles cases and outbreaks truly sporadic, or are we on the verge of the return of widespread measles? While recent measles outbreaks have been contained, the frequency and size of these outbreaks is alarming. A return of widespread measles is not inevitable, but to be sure we prevent it, we need to address vaccine refusal directly."

Anna Bauman produced this hour for broadcast.

This program aired on February 13, 2019.

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