Several Measles outbreaks have the University of Washington on alert. As of Feb. 5, 2015, there have been four confirmed cases in King County (no cases in Pierce County), totaling 170 cases in the U.S. this year.

UW students have been emailed information on symptoms, how to re­duce risks and vaccination require­ments from the Environmental Health and Safety department (EHS).

The UWT Student Health Services provides free vaccinations as well as a $24 blood test to see if you have had the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Ru­bella) vaccine.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deemed Measles officially eliminated in 2000. With the previous 1994 outbreaks similar to that of 2014, the CDC attributes that to unvaccinated persons.

According to CDC’s 2014 press re­lease, last year’s 288 cases are a result of “unvaccinated people, primarily U.S. residents, who got measles in other countries.”

EHS has provided information in emails to all UW students on how to reduce your risks:

“Check your immunization status. You should be able to document that you have either had two vaccines or have had the disease. In the United States, persons born before 1957 likely had the infection and so are presumed to be immune. Persons born between 1957 and 1979 may have had only one dose of the vaccine. Persons born later likely received two doses of the vaccine in childhood, but should check this in their records.”

In a recent debate, some parents are choosing not to vaccinate their chil­dren, claiming that the pharmaceutical companies can’t be trusted, the vaccines are full of chemicals or a number of vaccines have already been taken off the market.

Washington State offers exemption options upon presentation of a written certification signed by parent or legal guardian. Reasons range from per­sonal objection to philosophical and religious belief.

The debate has reached mainstream television. Talk show host Jimmy Kim­mel made a PSA about vaccinations. He unapologetically discredited those who chose not to vaccinate their chil­dren (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgpfNScEd3M&t=177). While actress Jenny McCarthy has been deemed the celebrity poster child for anti-vaccine movements because of comments made throughout recent years, now she says she’s in the “gray zone,” probing others to “educate your­self and ask questions.”

The vaccination controversy is one not to be ignored. Whatever side is chosen will have a heavy effect on loved ones and those in the community.

For more information, contact UWT Student Health Services at uwt­shs@uw.edu or call at 253-692-5811.

PHOTO BY MICHELLE DE LA CRUZ
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