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Home / Health / The outbreak of preventable diseases was "inevitable" at low vaccination rates

The outbreak of preventable diseases was "inevitable" at low vaccination rates

Alan Melnick is frustrated and open to new ideas. The Clark County Health Officer and his staff are in the fourth week of a public health crisis Washington has not yet seen, and he suspects that the outbreak of measles, which has already claimed 23 people at that time, will only grow in the foreseeable future.

However, what frustrates him so much that he seeks input is that the rapid spread of the sometimes fatal disease is preventable. For years, however, vaccination rates in Clark County have remained well below the threshold to prevent a highly contagious disease such as measles from destroying a community.

"The bottom line is it's no surprise that we see this now," Melnick said. "If we do not increase our vaccination rates, we will see more of them in the future."

The disinformation that has fueled the decline in vaccination rates is largely due to the debunked claim that vaccines cause autism seems to be as contagious as measles. Like other health agencies and social media news agencies, Clark County is bombarded with myths and "junk science" about the dangers of vaccination. Melnick sees that the links appear on Facebook and spread because the articles are well used and the websites appear professional.

"That's garbage, but it's out there and they're doing well," Melnick said in an interview on Wednesday

On Friday, the number of confirmed measles cases would rise to 30 on Jan. 1

. The list of places where people with measles might have spread them included nine health facilities, nine schools, three churches, and Portland International Airport and a game of Portland Trail Blazers.

Infected people bought Chuck & # 39; s Produce from Costco and the grocery store. They went out to eat and meet with their financial planners.

If the Vancouver area is so-called herd immunity, the number of people who need to be vaccinated to stop an infectious disease would be good activity. However, in order to achieve herd immunity, a vaccination rate of 93 percent is required. In 2017, Vancouver was only 66 years old. This means that people who have never received a vaccine are people with a weak immune system and children who are too young to get a vaccine or people who are unable to medical reasons are from the air threatened themselves when they leave the house.

Melnick has a supply of immunoglobulin that can help ward off the disease, but he saves it for the worst cases, such as pregnant women, who are much more likely to have a miscarriage or stillbirth in a measles infection.

Measles outbreaks generally occur in 21-day cycles. The virus radiates from the original carriers first into their personal community, then through centralized locations to the larger community, then to individuals who became infected, and then spread it into their own communities.

Melnick expects the disease to eventually cross state and district lines. Maybe he already had – a man in King County whose measles had taken place before his diagnosis in southwest Washington.

Before the measles vaccine was widely used, contraception was reported every year, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and between 400 and 500 people. Every year, about 1,000 people have one of the most serious consequences – brain swelling, which can cause lifelong problems.

Nearly every child under the age of 15 in the US received measles before 1963. However, after vaccination, this figure spread so low that the 30 people diagnosed in Clark County are one of the largest outbreaks at the national level.

At the same time, New York has more than 160 cases of measles in an outbreak that took place in an Orthodox Jewish community where many were. People are unvaccinated and spend most of their days together, working together and worshiping together.

Melnick said the Vancouver outbreak is not limited to one religion or one demographic. But it still has the potential to be as big and dangerous as New York's.

"That's what keeps me awake at night," Melnick said. "That could be exponential. It's like taking gas and throwing a match.


Clark County and state health officials say they do not yet know how the outbreak began. Normally, measles are returned by someone who has traveled abroad and unknowingly introduces him to the United States.

The outbreak of New York was linked to a measles outbreak in Israel, where members of the Jewish community in New York visited or hosted guests.

] Washington health authorities have not found a source and say they are too busy to try to reduce the range of the outbreak to provide more resources for the investigation.

And officials say they need more resources. On Friday, Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency to seek medical help from other states and use all available Washington state government agencies to help respond to the outbreak.

Statements from the state and national research show that there are tendencies in the vaccine and who is not The demographics is diverse and makes it difficult to point out the possible perpetrators.

Impregnation often goes beyond political dividing lines. Oregon Christian and Waldorf schools report the lowest vaccination rates, although parents sending their children to each may vote for political parties. Many churches in Vancouver are Protestant with infected parishioners.

People who are resistant to vaccines also include the socio-economic spectrum. While some outbreaks have been associated with wealthier enclaves, Washington's rural areas have the lowest vaccination rates.

Washington Health Agency spokeswoman Danielle Koenig said this was partly due to access. In some districts of Washington, there are so few places where these vaccines can be given without parents giving up.

But although it is known which schools and regions in Oregon and Washington have low vaccination coverage, there is a growing feeling that health authorities are losing the fight to "anti-Vaxxer" – the label most fiercely targeted against vaccines.

Koenig pointed out that Washington's immunization rates have remained relatively stable over the last decade – but that is below what the health authorities want it to be

Oregon also has chronic low vaccination coverage.

The Washington State Department of Health provides education and information about the benefits of vaccines. Officials remind parents that most choose to vaccinate their children.

Across the state, seven in ten people are fully vaccinated.

"Although it looks like a loud argument on the Internet, it's only a small percentage of people who do not opt ​​for vaccinations," Koenig said.

But a nationwide average does not necessarily help Clark County, where only 77 , 4 percent of all public students have completed their vaccinations.


Washington and Oregon laws dictate that public school students need to be vaccinated to receive education – mostly.

Both states give the Parents have considerable room for maneuver to obtain liberation.

In many states of America and Washington, parents can enroll their children at school without vaccines, claiming a philosophical objection as well as religious and medical objections.

For this indulgence A parent must first meet with a health care provider A doctor may explain the serious risks of not vaccinating.

In Washington, however, parents can also withdraw from the meeting by claiming that they have religious objections to any form of healthcare interventions. In Oregon, they can opt to watch a state-produced video instead.

The downside is that children who lack the required vaccinations can be excluded from school because they were in the Evergreen School District during the measles outbreak. 19659002] According to district spokeswoman Gail Spolar, more than 100 students have no required vaccinations. Of these, the great majority have philosophical or religious exceptions.

The school district is trying to send students work so they can keep up with the school while they stay home, Spolar said, but can not make sure they stay on course. As soon as they get back to school, the employees try to catch up with them.

Spolar said that school officials have the same problems as anyone who tries to control the measles outbreak, but vaccination is not the school district's responsibility

Parents and guardians will provide the immunization documentation when enrolling children at school, and it would be impossible to try to convince anyone of the cost of non-vaccination, Spolar said.

"That's not something we are going to do," she said.

Instead, they focus on dealing with the current outbreak, not even the district's 20-year veterans can agree on an outbreak remember this, said Spolar, and they had to learn how to handle it quickly.

The school district sends letters and e-mails in multiple languages, attaching signs to schools, locking doors against unannounced visitors, the learning curve is steep, Therefore, any discussion on whether this situation will be commonplace in the future, leave, said Spolar.


But in the county health department Melnick is ready

"Here we need a cultural change and broad social consensus about this before it changes. "

He expects the outbreaks to get worse before they act, the last confirmed measles case in Clark County was in 2011 – two children had the disease. In 2015, the first person to die from measles for 12 years died in Washington.

Multnomah County had a measles case last summer, and Clark County had a suspicious case that could not be confirmed.

Meanwhile, mumps and chickenpox – children who are often vaccinated with measles at the same time – have become more common.

Contraindicators point out the low number of hospital inmates or the death of measles as a sign that the risk is too high. So far, only one person in the current outbreak was hospitalized. However, Melnick argues that one in 30 people is higher than he should be.

Especially if hospitalization is due to a disease that was declared out of the US in 2000 and is not expected to be affected every year.

The aviation industry dumped two jumbo jets each year, I think people are afraid to fly, "Melnick said.

" It's a big deal.

More information:

Measles outbreak in Vancouver: Where you may have been exposed

Outbreak of measles in Vancouver region: the following should you know

– Molly Harbarger

[email protected]

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