Northwest measles outbreak revives debate over vaccine laws

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Washington State Department of Health keeps track of residents' immunization status so people can see if they need shots.

He said measles will start with a fever, coughing and sneezing.

But along with causing those symptoms, measles can also lead to death, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite the high number of patients, De Guzman clarified that the hospital is still taking in more patients with measles. They succumb when complications become too severe. At least 34 people affected are children between 1 and 10.

Supplements of vitamin A, which supports the immune system and the eyes, have been shown to reduce the number of deaths from measles by 50%, World Health Organization reports.

A 9-year-old Vancouver boy infected with measles wasn't vaccinated because his parents feared he would have an allergic reaction, the boy's father said this week. Even children in the best of health who are diagnosed with measles should receive two doses of vitamin A supplements 24 hours apart, according to WHO.

The Houston outbreak comes as new cases of measles are being confirmed in Washington state on a daily basis, and other cases have been confirmed in Oregon, Georgia, and NY.

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At least eight other states have reported measles cases this year.

A 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 83 percent of OR adolescents had received their booster shots against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

Incubation for measles is usually 7 to 21 days. Vaccination resulted in an 80% drop in worldwide measles deaths between 2000 and 2017. Then, families travel to other countries where the virus is more common, and since they are unprotected, they bring the virus back to the U.S. This is when outbreaks occur.

Armstrong said the lapse in additional cases helps Clark County Public Health feel like the preventative work the agency does is helping. Disrupted health services, including routine vaccinations, along with overcrowding in residential camps increases the risk of infection.

"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. However, there are still means to regain the momentum to continue and strongly support the routine immunization of children to protect them from acquiring vaccine-preventable diseases.

Doctors play a central role in educating parents and/or caregivers on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines which are recommended by regulatory authorities.

Washington and OR are among 17 states that allow some type of non-medical exemption for vaccines for "personal, moral OR other beliefs", according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.