Religious exemptions for vaccinations in question following measles outbreak

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Misinformation is circulating on social media, said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County public health director.

The measles outbreak in Washington state is spreading, and now there are at least nine states with cases.

The vaccine has been part of routine childhood shots for decades, and measles was declared eliminated in the U.S.in 2000. Unvaccinated people are at a much higher risk of contracting measles if they come into contact with someone who is contagious.

Chelan-Douglas Health District Officials are emphasizing that unimmunized students and staff will only be excluded if there are measles cases in the area. In fact, according to the CDC, just one dose of the MMR vaccine is 93 percent effective against measles. However, since there have not been any confirmed cases in Chelan or Douglas County, students and staff are not now being excluded from school or child care.

Opposition to vaccines is generally based on junk science that has been endorsed by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy who, with Oprah's help, falsely hinted that there may be something unsafe about the measles vaccine.

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This is the first case in the outbreak confirmed to have had an MMR vaccination. State records in Washington show that during the 2004-05 school year, vaccination rates for kindergartners in Clark County were above 91%.

Symptoms of measles can often be similar to cold or flu symptoms, including: fever, diarrhea, coughing, runny nose, red and watery eyes, and fatigue. But measles is still a big problem in other parts of the world, and travelers infected overseas can bring the virus back and spread it, causing periodic outbreaks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you are not sure about your immunization status, and you can not locate your vaccination records, it is safe to get the MMR vaccine. Of these, approximately 500,000 cases were reported each year to CDC; of these, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 developed encephalitis (brain swelling) from measles.

Nearly everyone who is not immune will get measles if they are exposed to the measles virus.

You can catch measles from an infected person as early as four days before they have a rash, and up to four days after the rash appears.

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