SANTA CRUZ — The Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency is urging county residents to vaccinate their children against the measles in the wake of five confirmed cases in the Santa Clara since April 4.
Although the general public is at very low risk of measles as a result of these cases, measles is an acute, highly contagious viral disease, said Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Arnold Leff.
“The best way to protect yourself and your family against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases is by immunization,” Leff said.
According to Leff, two doses ofMMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine provide long-lasting protection against measles. Those who have previously been infected with measles are also protected from being infected with measles again.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get the first dose at 12–15 months of age, and the second dose at 4–6 years of age.
Measles vaccination protects not just the person being vaccinated, but the community around them, including babies less than 12 months old who are too young to be vaccinated and cancer patients, Leff said.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and a sore throat and is followed by a rash that spreads over the body.
Anyone who believes they could be infected should call their healthcare provider.
It is important to call beforegoing to the medical office so the office can take steps to prevent others from being exposed to measles, Leff said.
MMR is available at many doctors’ offices and clinics and at some retail pharmacies. For persons without health insurance, the vaccine is available at county clinics. For a list of locations, visit tinyurl.com/yakjtvvn or call 454-4100.