Health News

Samish Public Health News Release

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Immunizations: The First & Best Protection

Against Infectious Disease

    Immunization (or vaccination) is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infectious disease.  If not for the widespread use of vaccines in the United States, many more deaths would occur as a result of infectious disease during childhood and more people would be living with chronic and crippling disabilities.

Vaccination is the first line of defense against diseases such as polio, measles, mumps, rubella, influenza, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.  Additionally, vaccines combat serious disease by boosting and building up the immune system and keeping it strong.

The recent 2014 measles outbreak is an example of the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.  Since January this year, 397 cases and 16 outbreaks of measles have been reported in 20 states including Washington State.  This is the largest number of cases reported since measles was eliminated back in 2000.  Most of the reported cases have occurred in unvaccinated persons or those whose vaccination status was unknown.

Measles is a highly contagious acute viral illness that can lead to serious complications and in some cases even death.  Measles remains a common disease in many overseas countries.  Most measles cases are brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers who get infected in other countries.

The best way to prevent the measles is by getting vaccinated.  The vaccine is given as a combination vaccine providing protection against measles, mumps and rubella.  Children should be vaccinated with two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR).  The first dose is administered between 12 and 15 months and the second dose at age 4 to 6 years.  Adults born before 1957 who had measles as a child are probably immune and do not need the vaccine.  However, anyone born during or after 1957 who has not had measles or been vaccinated is at risk and should get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine. Two doses are recommended for adults who are at higher risk, such as: college students, international travelers, health care workers and people exposed during a measles outbreak.  For children traveling abroad: Infants 6-11 months old should receive one dose of the measles (MMR) vaccine before leaving; and, children 12 months and older should receive two doses before travel.  Check with you pediatrician before travel abroad to make sure your children are protected.

If you have not received the measles vaccination, have not had the measles before or are not sure if you are immune, please talk to your health care provider about receiving the measles (MMR) vaccine.

Most health insurance plans generally cover the cost of vaccines including the measles (MMR) vaccine.  Generally, the cost of vaccines including the measles (MMR) vaccination is covered by Medicare and Medicaid, most health insurance plans and by Samish Contract Health.  If you are getting a vaccination at a pharmacy, you can now use your Samish ID card with the NWPS sticker on the back.  However, if you are getting a vaccination directly from your health care provider or at a clinic, please contact Samish Contract Health Services in advance for payment approval.

The information in this report has been compiled from the CDC and various other relevant government agencies and is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional health-care provider.

For more information about the 2014 measles outbreak and the MMR vaccination, please visit: http://www.vaccines.gov/diseases/measles/index.html

Immunization information for Children, Adolescents, Adults and Travelers can be found at the Washington State Department of Health Website: http://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/Immunization.aspx

To find where to get a vaccine in your community, please visit the CDC’s vaccination information link at http://www.vaccines.gov/.  Or call 800-CDC-INFO.

 

Mitch Markovich, RN
Samish Public Health Services

 June 2014