Health officials ask schools, daycares to share measles information, know their students’ immunization status

January 30, 2019

As a measles outbreak continues in southern Washington, Oregon officials are working to keep the virus from spreading in schools and daycares where children who haven’t been immunized are at risk. [Learn more here]

Multnomah County’s Communicable Disease Services unit emailed 500 schools and daycares Tuesday, recommending that each facility designate a point person who can communicate with public health officials if a measles case is identified at their facility.

Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines encourages parents to learn about measles.

A single case of measles would always prompt health officials to immediately review staff and student vaccination records to determine the risk of further spread. Local health officials would work with school administrators to keep unvaccinated kids out of school for a 21-day symptom watch. 

“We wanted to provide information about how schools and families can be prepared,” said Lisa Ferguson, interim director of Communicable Disease Services.

Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines provided schools and daycares a letter for concerned parents about measles, vaccines, and the steps officials would most likely take after an exposure occurred at a school or daycare.

“When caregivers decline or delay measles vaccines, they risk having to suddenly make child care plans for a few weeks if there is a case of measles at the school.”

Kids who contract measles can face deadly consequences: One-in-1,000 will die.

But children who are 12 months old can get their first measles, mumps, rubella vaccine. Then, after at least a month, they can receive a second shot to ensure immunity. The measles vaccine is nearly 100-percent effective and widely considered safe.

Vines encourages parents to talk to their primary care providers about the measles vaccine and to make sure the whole family is up to date on their shots.

“The best peace of mind is knowing that you are immune to measles, and the easiest way to do that is to get vaccinated.”

Multnomah County encourages the public to call 2-1-1 with general questions about measles.