March 24, 2019

MEDICAL Q&A: Vaccine refusal, and the measles epidemic risk

01 March 2019, 04:54 | Silvia Roy



Vancouver Coastal Health said it has distributed 7,000 more MMR vaccines than it normally would at this time of the year.

Measles, a unsafe disease that was all but wiped out almost two decades ago due to widespread vaccinations, is making a comeback worldwide, including in North Carolina.

Proposals in ME and OR would eliminate both exemptions, while measures in Minnesota, Colorado, and Washington state, where there are 66 confirmed measles cases this year, would only eliminate personal exemptions and leave religious exemptions in place.

Japan, with 170 reported cases since the start of the year, is battling its worst outbreak in more than a decade.

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Measles is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory symptom spread through coughing and sneezing. US professional medical societies such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have been at the forefront of vaccine advocacy - leveraging the fact that physicians are the most trusted source of vaccine information, even among vaccine refusers. "We've got to make sure the procedures are in place".

Two new cases were reported in the province Sunday and most are linked to two French-language schools in Vancouver after an unvaccinated child contracted the disease during a trip to Vietnam.

They're targeting children under 5 who need their shot because older kids and adults can get their vaccine from a pharmacy, their family doctor or a walk-in clinic. While most cases pass unpleasantly, it can also lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications including infections of the lungs and brain. "Unfortunately this will mean some measles or pertussis deaths". People can also get sick when they come in contact with mucus or saliva from an infected person. Outbreaks can occur when vaccination rates are low enough to let the disease spread from person to person.

Brantford Coun. Brian VanTilborg, who is a member of the Brant County board of health, said some of the social media pages of those opposed to vaccinations have hundreds of thousands of followers. The fourth case is pending genotyping results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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A rise in measles cases and fears of an epidemic are prompting efforts across the United States to make it harder for parents to refuse vaccinations for their children.

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.

According to the CDC, most of the people who contract measles are those unvaccinated.

Lock said the message needs to be spread across the country because "we're not doing as good a job as the anti-vax people". Most states have regulations about vaccinations as a requirement for school attendance.

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In Montana, one representative is working to make it easier for parents to opt-out of vaccines for children in daycare. North Carolina has endured chicken pox outbreaks in 2016, 2017 and 2018, including one last November that afflicted 36 students at an Asheville school with a high concentration of vaccine exemptions. In day cares, only medical exemptions are allowed.

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