Morning Rounds: Measles outbreak and vaccine safety

Alicia Farmer
February 5, 2019

Public health officer Dr. Alan Melnick said that it is fine for most people children who are not yet scheduled for the second dose, which is usually administered around the age of 5. Here are four things that everyone needs to know about measles. Just imagine: if an infectious person sneezes in an elevator, everyone riding that elevator for the next two hours could be exposed.

The first symptoms of measles are a high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis), which could be confused with any number of other viruses, especially during cold and flu season.

"That doesn't mean that in the back of our mind we're always mindful that we don't have or hope that we don't have anything going on here", Goforth said. "If it gets more severe, you are basically at the mercy of the virus".

When it comes to unvaccinated people, one with measles can infect from 12 to 18 others.

Five percent of people with measles get pneumonia.

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"Those most at risk of measles and related complications are the very young, the very old and those with compromised immune systems". If left untreated, encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain, can develop. "One in 1,000 will die".

Maldonado said what is happening now is people are getting looser with getting vaccinations for their children. One victim had had one MMR vaccine, but not a follow-up shot.

"The measles vaccine isn't flawless, but one dose is 93 percent effective at preventing illness", said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director.

Insinuations that vaccines are unsafe spread via misinformation and anecdotal reports of alleged vaccine reactions, either by unqualified professionals, the media, the internet and/or anti-vaccination groups, and this leads parents to question the need for immunization. Most side effects are mild, and it does not cause autism. "If you don't have records, you can always call your doctor's office to get them or you can get a re-vaccination if you're not able to confirm you've been vaccinated", she added. To create "herd immunity" that helps protect those who can't get the vaccine (such as young infants or those with weak immune systems), you need about 95% vaccination, so the 94% isn't flawless - and in some states and communities, that number is even lower. Between 1985 and 1992, death from measles was reported in approximately 2 out of every 1,000 USA measles cases, with pneumonia accounting for about 60% of these deaths, according to the CDC.

If you are unsure if you received the vaccine, contact the health department.

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