Measles in Washington
On Friday, January 25, Governor Inslee declared a State of Emergency to bolster the State’s response to a large measles outbreak in Clark County, Washington, that could spread widely. In King County we have had one reported case of measles as of January 31, 2019 and we remain very concerned about the potential for additional cases here. Measles spreads effectively among unvaccinated people, including in schools, households, places of employment, social settings, public spaces, healthcare facilities, and any place where people gather.
Measles is very contagious and can cause serious illness, especially in young children, pregnant women, and anyone with weakened immune system. The good news is that measles is preventable with the safe and highly effective measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. All children and adults who are up-to-date with their MMR vaccinations are very well protected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two doses of the MMR vaccine are more than 95 percent effective in preventing measles and that protection is long lasting. However, in places where vaccination rates are not high and where unvaccinated people gather, the risk for measles cases, outbreaks and spread is high.
Measles is a cause for serious concern for anyone who does not have immunity. Measles is unique because it is so highly contagious. Measles virus has the ability to hang in the air, so people without immunity can become infected by just being in a room where someone measles has been, even if that person left that room two hours ago.
MMR vaccine is covered under King County’s health benefits at no cost to benefits-covered employees and family members. You can get an MMR vaccination from your healthcare provider and at many pharmacies. If you aren’t sure if you’re fully immunized, you can get an MMR vaccination as a precaution; it is safe to have an additional immunization even if you’re already fully immunized.
For more information on measles and updates on the local situation, go to: kingcounty.gov/measles.