The Kane County Health Department is set to obtain about 200 doses of measles vaccine and hopes to make it available Friday for students and staff at Elgin Community College who might have been in contact with the ECC student from Chicago who was diagnosed with the disease.
Health Department Executive Director Barb Jeffers said the county expects to receive the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine from the Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. On Friday and again on Tuesday, the Health Department will offer the measles vaccine to those who were in the classroom or worked at the college in those areas where exposure may have occurred.
The vaccine will be offered free of charge and limited to individuals at the college who have not been vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the measles vaccine is very effective. One dose of measles vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus.
“We felt it was important to be proactive,” Jeffers said. “Part of our mission is to protect and promote health, and prevent disease, and that’s exactly what were hoping to do here.
“We’re working very closely with officials from Elgin Community Community College, and they were very gracious and accommodating in allowing us to come to their facility,” Jeffers added. “I also want to thank the professionals at the Illinois Department of Public Health. They said, ‘We will be there tomorrow.’ I am grateful that they could respond so quickly.”
Kane County health officials informed Elgin Community College Tuesday that a case of measles had been confirmed in an ECC student, who is a resident of Cook County.
Prior to being diagnosed, the student attended classes on Tuesday, Feb. 3, and Thursday, Feb. 5, and also visited the library on Feb. 3, according to a communication posted on the ECC website.
If you believe you may have been exposed to measles and are not immunized and are experiencing symptoms, the Health Department sugggests that you first call your doctor’s office, health clinic or emergency department before going into the office or emergency room so staff can take precautions to help avoid further spread of measles.
Measles is very infectious and should be suspected in any patient with a fever, rash and the three C’s: cough, coryza or runny nose, and conjunctivitis or red, runny eyes.
All children should receive two doses of MMR vaccine by age 6. The first dose of MMR vaccine is recommended at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age, health officials said.
All adults born during or after 1957 should receive at least one dose of vaccine unless they have documented evidence of measles immunity — typically a blood test or a physician’s diagnosis of measles or documentation of immunization.
Thursday, Feb. 12, is Lincoln’s Birthday, a state holiday in Illinois, and the Kane County Health Department offices will be closed. The office reopens at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Frequently Asked Questions
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Q: How effective is the measles vaccine?
A: The measles vaccine is very effective. One dose of measles vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus and two doses is about 97 percent effective.
Q: Could measles ever re-establish itself in the United States?
A: Yes, it is possible that measles could become endemic (constant presence of a disease in an area) in the United States again, especially if vaccine coverage levels drop. This can happen when people
- forget to get vaccinated on time,
- don’t know that they need a vaccine dose (this is most common among adults), or
- refuse vaccines for religious, philosophical or personal reasons.
Research shows that people who refuse vaccines tend to group together in communities. When measles gets into communities with pockets of unvaccinated people, outbreaks are more likely to occur. These communities make it difficult to control the spread of the disease and make us vulnerable to having the virus re-establish itself in our country.
High sustained measles vaccine coverage and rapid public health response are critical for preventing and controlling measles cases and outbreaks.
Q: What are the vaccine coverage levels like in the United States?
A: Overall, nationally, the rates of people vaccinated against measles have been very stable since the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program was introduced in 1994. In 2013, the overall national coverage for MMR vaccine among children aged 19-35 months was 91.9 percent. However, MMR vaccine coverage levels continue to vary by state. For example, in 10 states, 95 percent of the children aged 19-35 months in 2013 had received at least one dose of MMR vaccine, while in 17 other states, less than 90 percent of these children were vaccinated against measles. At the county or lower levels, vaccine coverage rates may vary considerably. Pockets of unvaccinated people can exist in states with high vaccination coverage, underscoring considerable measles susceptibility at some local levels.
For more information about childhood vaccination coverage, see a CDC MMWR.