Sometimes, a strong dose of reality is what’s needed to motivate people to do the right thing, and that’s what appears to be happening in Clark County, Washington.
When Clark County declared a state of emergency over the outbreak late last month, there were 36 confirmed cases of the disease. Fast-forward to this week and there are now 50 confirmed cases and that number is continuing to rise.
The region is a known hot spot for people who refuse to vaccinate. Figures indicate that the county’s population is below the 92-94 percent vaccination rate needed to maintain the proper “herd immunity” to stave off disease. But as the outbreak spread and became the subject of national news, the demand to be vaccinated surged, even among the “vaccine-hesitant,” according to Kaiser Health News.
Around this time last year, just 263 people took the measles vaccine in Clark County. In the wake of last month’s outbreak, that number jumped to 1,444. Most of the demand is coming from parents whose children weren’t vaccinated.
According to infection control nurse Virginia Ramos, it usually takes in outbreak to finally see “an influx of patients who would otherwise be vaccine-hesitant.”
That’s a huge rise in a county where vaccination rates lag — only 76.5 percent of kindergartners had all the required immunizations for the 2017-18 school year. Health officials have long worried about the potential for an outbreak in the region
Statewide in Washington, orders for measles vaccine jumped about 30 percent in January compared with the same month last year, climbing from 12,140 doses to 15,780 doses, figures showed. The vaccines include MMR, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, and MMR-V, which also protects against the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox. The vaccine takes effect within 72 hours, health officials said.
As Ars Technica points out, the symptoms of measles usually include a “high fever, cough, and runny nose, as well as red, watery eyes.” Three to five days later, the telltale measles rash begins to present itself. Complications can include diarrhea and ear infections that could result in permanent hearing loss in children. More severe complications include pneumonia, which can be fatal, and swelling of the brain, also known as encephalitis.
Clark County isn’t the only place struggling with disease outbreaks linked to anti-vaxxers. Measles made a huge comeback in Europe in 2017 with over 21,000 new cases being reported across the continent, according to an alarming report from the German news outlet Deutsche Welle. The data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) last month shows measles cases quadrupled from the previous year.
Thirty-five people reportedly died as a result of the European outbreaks in 2017.
Featured image via Flickr