Measles Presents a Real Threat

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Dear Editor:

As pediatric providers on the Eastern Shore, we are very concerned about the current measles outbreak in our neighboring states. While currently there are no documented cases in Virginia, we feel our proximity to New York, New Jersey, and Maryland as a travel corridor is particularly concerning. There are currently large outbreaks in these areas.

The summer travel season will soon bring many people through our area. Measles is a very contagious disease. It can be spread through the air for several hours after an infected patient is in an area. Those in proximity to an active case have a 90% chance of getting the disease if they are unvaccinated. The disease can be spread for four days before the classic rash appears that helps us diagnose the measles. It causes severe respiratory infection and can be life-threatening.

The best protection against measles is vaccination. The vaccine is safe and effective. Outbreaks tend to spread in areas where there are low vaccination rates. We are fortunate that we have overall high vaccination rates in our community but there has been a recent trend of undervaccination putting some children at risk.

Parents have the power to protect their children and others against measles. We want to take this opportunity to make parents aware of the current outbreak and our risk as a community. We ask them to consider not just their children, but those too young to get the vaccine and those with immune problems or cancer who are unable to get the vaccine.

We urge parents of unvaccinated children to talk to their doctors about any concerns they may have. We urge them to help us keep our community safe.

ESRHS Pediatric and Medical Providers