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Officials confident vaccine will halt measles

6/19/2014

Charleston Daily Mail
By Samuel Speciale
June 17, 2014

A record outbreak of measles in Ohio has federal health officials on edge, but the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health hopes the state’s strict immunization policies will be enough to keep the virus from crossing the border.

While nearly 98 percent of school-aged children in West Virginia have been vaccinated, only 85 percent of toddlers have received the first of two doses of MMR, the vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella.

Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said she isn’t comfortable with that number because measles can take hold in any community where fewer than 90 percent have received vaccinations.

“Measles is highly contagious,” she said. “It’s airborne and can be spread before any symptoms appear.”

Jeffrey Neccuzi, director for the state Division of Immunization Services, said West Virginia is guarded because it has a well-immunized population.

He said most young people won’t be susceptible because state code requires all students to receive the full MMR vaccination before attending school.

West Virginia’s large senior population should also be safe. The CDC presumes that all people born before 1957 are immune because measles was so rampant in the past that most senior citizens have already had it.

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