In one of those stories that no one could possibly have predicted, a California charter school had to temporarily close down because an unvaccinated student contracted measles overseas and returned to the classroom. In the process, other students — including some whose parents also chose to forgo immunization for their children — were exposed.
“We have one confirmed case of measles associated with international travel in an unvaccinated individual. We have not had any other suspect reports of measles so far,” Nevada County Public Health Officer Dr. Ken Cutler said.
The child has fully recovered, but many people were exposed, including other unvaccinated students at the school, health officials said.
While the school was scheduled to re-open on Wednesday, only vaccinated students were allowed back — the other exposed students will have to wait until April 8 in order to prevent any potential outbreaks.
That means a lot of kids will be stuck home for a long time, since over half of the students are unvaccinated.
Many people are suspicious of vaccinations in Nevada County where only 77 percent of the kids are vaccinated compared to the state wide average of 92 percent. And at Yuba River Charter School, fully half the students attending on March 17th when the exposure occurred were not vaccinated for measles.
Under California law, parents are required to immunize their children. However, the mandate isn’t fully in effect until later in the year.
Measles is a highly contagious, viral respiratory disease that results in 146,000 deaths worldwide each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, which nearly all California students will be required to receive for the 2016-2017 school year under a strict vaccine law passed in the state legislature last year.
Under the law effective July 1, parents citing religious or personal reasons will no longer be exempt from immunizing their children enrolled in California’s public and private schools. Parents may opt their child out of immunizations like the MMR vaccine only for medical reasons, or they may homeschool them.
As preventable incidents like this one demonstrate, the law will have a positive impact on ensuring that children are protected from preventable diseases — and the fallout that exposure entails.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Scott for the link)