California Measles Outbreak Prompting Lots Of Questions In Chicago Area

CHICAGO (CBS) — In the wake of the measles outbreak in California, county health officials in the Chicago area have been getting a lot of questions this week about the disease, and the vaccine.

Most local health departments said they are not seeing any more or fewer measles vaccinations being given since an outbreak of measles tied to Disneyland, with the exception being Will County.

“We probably have had a one to two percent increase just in the last week or so, especially in light of this Disneyland situation, and the TV exposure that it’s been getting,” Will County Health Department spokesman Vic Reato said.

In McHenry County, officials received one question from a parent whose child had a bad allergic reaction to first of the two measles vaccines, and wondered what to do next. The answer was, if your child is allergic to the vaccine, you should make sure those around your child are vaccinated.

McHenry County Health Department spokeswoman Debra Quackenbush said the measles vaccination rate is about 95 percent in McHenry County, but “unfortunately we are seeing a trend going down for religious exemptions; and, of course, anyone in public health understands that that could be cause for concern.”

Quackenbush said she’s glad more people are calling the department with questions about measles and the vaccine. She said it’s better to get the information from a place that provides info with good science, rather than basing vaccination decisions on someplace with bad science.

California is in the midst of the nation’s second-biggest measles outbreak in at least 15 years, with at least 98 cases reported since December – most of them traced directly or indirectly to Disneyland in Southern California.

Some doctors have begun refusing to see children whose parents refuse to get them vaccinated.

It’s a sentiment echoed by a small number of doctors who in recent years have “fired” patients who continue to believe debunked research linking vaccines to autism. They hope the strategy will lead parents to change their minds; if that fails, they hope it will at least reduce the risk to other children in the office.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says doctors should bring up the importance of vaccinations during visits but should respect a parent’s wishes unless there’s a significant risk to the child.

The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or MMR, is 97 percent effective at preventing measles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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