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Immunization Summit Brings Awareness of Measles Outbreak to W.Va.

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Liz McCormick
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The hot topic at this year’s Immunization Summit in Charleston was measles. An outbreak of the disease in Ohio has health care officials in West Virginia worried.

250 individuals representing school nurses, public and private health care providers, state health officials, and coalition members and partners from around the state attended the Immunization Summit to discuss how West Virginia can tackle Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Assistant Surgeon General, Rear Admiral, Dr. Anne Schuchat, says the biggest thing folks in West Virginia need to worry about is measles.

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Credit Liz McCormick
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Assistant Surgeon General, Rear Admiral, Dr. Anne Schuchat at the 2014 Immunization Summit.

“We’re at a twenty year high with measles, and the biggest outbreak is right next door in Ohio. Unfortunately, West Virginia has pretty low vaccine coverage against measles. Only at 85%, and that means that 15% of the children in West Virginia are vulnerable to measles. Measles can be serious and is really infectious, so I would encourage everybody to make sure their kids have gotten the recommended vaccine doses.”

According to Schuchat, there is currently a large outbreak of measles in the Philippines with over 30,000 cases. While the United States has been able to mostly prevent measles from spreading within the country, health officials  did not anticipate catching it abroad.

“What happened in Ohio is that some individuals went to do mission work, to do humanitarian assistance in the Philippines, but they’d never been vaccinated. They got measles, they brought it back, they spread it within their own communities.”

Dr. Schuchat encourages adults as well as children to get their measles vaccination, and says West Virginia is a little bit behind the national average and she hopes the Immunization Summit will inspire families to get their vaccinations.


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