Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Measles vaccine advised for Oklahoma children

By Jim Killackey
Oklahoman Staff Writer, March 26, 2008

A southern California measles outbreak provides a lesson to Oklahoma parents that their children should be immunized against communicable diseases, state health authorities said.
"Let there be no doubt — the risk of severe illness, complications, and death from vaccine-preventable diseases is very real. Immunizations are absolutely essential for health protection,” said Dr. Mike Crutcher, state Health Department commissioner.

As many as a dozen children in San Diego County, Calif., were diagnosed with or suspected to have measles in an outbreak that started in January. None of the children had been vaccinated, either because they were too young or their parents didn't want them to be vaccinated. An 11-month-old child who was infected at the Children's Clinic of La Jolla flew to Hawaii before parents knew the child had measles.

"In today's global economy, serious diseases like measles are only a plane ride away,” said Don Blose, chief of the Oklahoma Immunization Service at the state Health Department.
"It remains imperative that we continue to promote full and timely vaccination at the youngest age possible.” he said.” It's unfortunate that some of the infected San Diego children were too young to be vaccinated. Thanks to vaccines, today's providers rarely see many of the diseases that once dominated yesterday's practices.”

Oklahoma law allows immunization exemptions to be granted for medical, religious or philosophical reasons. Data from the Oklahoma school-entry survey show that less than 1 percent of parents opt for exemptions for their school-age children. Measles vaccinations are recommended for children under 6 years of age, with the first shot at 12 to 15 months and a second dose at 4 to 6 years.

Oklahoma hasn't had a measles case since 1997, health authorities said.

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