Measles outbreak: 53 confirmed cases

Henrietta Strickland
February 12, 2019

As the measles outbreak in the Vancouver, Washington area continues to rise, 53 confirmed cases and seven suspect cases as of Friday with the bulk of the cases being unvaccinated, the Washington State House Committee on Health Care & Wellness held a public hearing on HB 1638, Promoting immunity against vaccine preventable diseases.

Amid a measles outbreak that has sickened more than 50 people in the Pacific Northwest, Washington lawmakers heard testimony Friday on a bill that would remove parents' ability to claim a personal or philosophical exemption to opt their school-age children out of the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

There are four confirmed cases in OR, all in Multnomah County. Health officials also say lower vaccination rates decrease so-called herd immunity, which can endanger children who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons. With the provision, each child at a public school will have to be vaccinated to protect them against measles, mumps, and rubella. Lawmakers have recently proposed a bill that would make measles vaccine an exemption. "Personal rights are important as long as they don't impose on the rights of others".

John Wiesman, the secretary of the state Department of Health, said the effort to limit exemptions is "about safe schools and protecting vulnerable children".

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Washington is one of 17 states that have legislation that gives citizens the right to refuse vaccination for philosophical reasons. The records showed that 3.7 percent of those exemptions were personal, while the remainder were religious exemptions.

Parents and guardians who refuse to vaccinate their children marched down to Washington in order to oppose a bill that will require measles vaccination for students in public school.

Both California and Vermont have removed personal belief vaccine exemptions for schoolchildren.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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