The recurrence of measles (rubeola) in multiple communities has been all over the news for months. What does this mean for you?

How serious is measles?

Measles is a serious viral infection that is extraordinarily infectious. It used to be a routine childhood ailment, often just a week’s illness and rash, but sometimes much more severe with encephalitis and death. Fortunately, effective vaccines almost abolished it beginning over 50 years ago. The current highly effective MMR vaccine has been in use over 45 years.

But freedom from measles requires all children to be vaccinated very young, and in the past few years “vaccine deniers” have arisen (especially in the NorthWest and also in certain religious communities in New York and elsewhere, creating a pool of unvaccinated young (and not so young) people who are susceptible to the infection. Outbreaks are now becoming common.

What does this mean for me?

Each of you in Orchard Health Care should be protected from developing measles. We took steps in the past two years to confirm everyone’s immunization history and to test every adult in the practice for protective measles antibody. We even included older adults who believed they had had the disease as a child but had never had the vaccine (a few were indeed unprotected). We then administered the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine to anyone who was not clearly protected. We believe we have checked everyone.

Vaccines are safe and effective

We give each of you many vaccines, which we are blessed to have. Many physicians have never seen a case of measles, or hemophilus influenza encephalitis, or tetanus, because our vaccines have suppressed or eliminated such scourges. If you have specific questions, we are happy to answer them. But the quick study is that vaccines in current use are overwhelmingly effective and safe. Vaccine deniers are simply and decisively wrong.

 

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