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SJ health officials urging vaccinating against measles

San Joaquin County Public Health Services isn’t mincing words when it comes to the recent measles outbreaks in the Western United States and localized cases in California. 

The time has come, they claim, to get vaccinated. 

“The bottom line is that you, the public, determine your fate with regards to measles infection. The time to confirm immunity to measles, or to get vaccinated, is now,” the agency stated in a release on Tuesday. “By taking this action, if a suspected case of measles is reported in the news, you can rest assured that you, your family and friends should be protected from measles. 

“In this day of social media awareness, there is no excuse not to become involved in getting vaccinated against measles – think of the opportunity to confirm immunity as the ultimate crowd-source experience.”

Last week the agency reported a potential case of measles in Manteca after they received notice that Kaiser Permanente’s Manteca Medical Center had a case they believed may have been the county’s first. Testing carried out after the announcement determined that it was not measles, but the report came just days before other confirmed cases sprang up in California – including in Calaveras County, which is adjacent to San Joaquin, and Placer County, which is to the northeast. Health officials in Santa Clara County on Tuesday were also busy notifying the public of the movements of a traveler who carried the virus into the area and visited at least 20 public places during their stay in the heavily-populated Silicon Valley earlier this month. 

The virus itself is highly contagious and can be transmitted when an infected patient coughs or sneezes – presenting initially with a high fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. After the initial symptoms present themselves, a rash then breaks out three to five days later – with the affected person contagious for the four days prior to the rash appearing, and the four days that follow. 

How far the virus spreads, however, is dependent upon the number of immunized individuals in a given community – statistical analysis, according to health officials, proves that if there are enough people with an immunity to measles in the community, then a confirmed case simply cannot lead to the kind of outbreaks that have been reported elsewhere in recent months.  

“While San Joaquin County Public Health Services is concerned about each and every reported case of suspected measles, we want to emphasize that the risk of infection from a measles case directly depends on the individual’s immunity to measles,” the statement read. “To put it simply, if individuals are protected from measles, then the risk of acquiring measles from an infectious patient approaches zero.”

According to the World Health Organization, vaccinations have resulted in a 75 percent reduction in the number of deaths worldwide from 2000 through 2013. In 1980, the agency reported, there were 2.6 million deaths associated with measles, and that number shrunk to less than 75,000 by 2014 – with most of those being children under the age of five years old.  

In order to combat the rising number of cases, and the growing community of people who choose not to vaccinate their children due to perceived health risks, the California legislature is considering new measures to tighten the restrictions around previously utilized vaccine exemptions. On Tuesday, California State Senator Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat, introduced legislation that would give the state’s public health agency the ability to approve or deny every request for a medical exemption to a child’s vaccination schedule – eliminating a loophole that some critics feel has been exploited by sympathetic medical professionals after Pan’s previous bill to ban the so-called “personal belief” exemption in 2015. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.