How Mumps And Measles Will Put Texas At Center Of Vaccinations Debate In 2017

“They say: ‘It’s our right not to vaccinate our child.’ I say, well, it works both ways.”

By Lauren SilvermanJanuary 4, 2017 9:30 am, , ,

From KERA News

Let’s get one thing straight: Mumps is generally not fatal. Measles, on the other hand, can kill.

“Around 100,000 kids die every year of measles; it used to be millions,” Dr. Peter Hotez says.

Hotez is dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He says the combined vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella is highly effective. Still, one shot isn’t always enough to protect against mumps, which are best known for causing a swollen jaw and puffy cheeks.

“A single immunization provides about 75 percent protection,” he says. “Two immunizations give you about 85 percent protection.”

Meaning those cheerleaders who came down with mumps in December could have already been vaccinated.

Measles ‘takes off’ when vaccinations decline

But what really concerns public health officials is measles. The virus is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close by, who aren’t immune, will also become infected. It’s the virus that surfaced at Disney theme parks and infected more than 130 Californians in 2015. The virus that can cause brain damage and death.

“Measles is something that takes off when vaccination rates start to decline and what we see now in Texas is a very ominous trend where we’ve had a dramatic rise in the number of kids whose parents are opting them out of them getting vaccinated.  It’s therefore almost inevitable Texas will start experiencing measles outbreaks.”

Hotez says even though statewide levels of vaccinations remain high, at over 98 percent, what concerns public health officials are “pockets”. They are growing clusters of geographic areas, like Travis County, where parents are getting conscientious, philosophical or religious exemptions from state vaccine requirements.

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