PORTLAND, Ore. — Dr. Jennifer Vines, deputy health officer for Multnomah County, spoke with KGW's Nina Mehlhaf on Tuesday about the measles outbreak in nearby Clark County, Washington.
Health officials have confirmed dozens of cases of measles in Clark County and more cases of suspected measles are being investigated.
The outbreak has also spread to Oregon, where health officials say a Multnomah County resident has measles, and the case is linked to the Washington outbreak.
Dr. Vines answered many questions about measles and what people should know. Here's what she said:
1.) I've had the vaccine, can I get the measles?
No. If you've had the first measles shot you're 93-95% immune. If you've had both shots, you're 95-100% immune. Do not worry, you're safe, even around infected people. Even going to the listed exposure sites. Same with your kids.
2.) I had the measles, can I get it again?
No. If you know you had a real case of the measles, you are now immune for life. No chance. It's one and done.
3.) I was vaccinated decades ago, am I still good?
Yes. Once you've had the vaccine, you are good to go. You won't get it. If you're really worried about it, you can get a new measles, mumps, rubella shot. There's no harm in getting a new one.
4.) I'm not sure I was vaccinated, what should I do?
You can get a new measles, mumps, rubella shot. There's no harm in getting a new one. Any doctor's office and pharmacy can give you one. It's never too late.
5.) How at risk are babies younger than 1 who can't get the vaccine yet?
Be careful exposing them to large crowds or very busy places. But because measles is so rare, it's likely they'll be fine. They can get their first shot at 1-year-old. You can get them the shot earlier, at 6 months, if you'll be traveling or are really concerned about it. Then, they'll still need that 12-month shot and the second one at 4-6 years-old.
6.) How soon after the shot are you immune?
Two weeks later.
7.) I had the shot but a test now shows low immunity, am I safe?
Yes. Those immunity tests are not very reliable, doctors say. If you've had the vaccine, that means you're safe, not an immune test.If you're really worried about it, you can get another MMR shot.
8.) Is it safe to go to the locations on the exposure list?
Yes! Those dates and times have long passed and the measles aren't still in the air. If you're vaccinated, you're especially safe. Even if you were there at the same time as an infected person.
9.) What's deadlier, the flu or measles?
The flu! In 2017, the CDC says 80,000 Americans died of the flu. In the past 18 years, 11 people have died of the measles. The measles is a one-time vaccine for life. The flu requires a yearly vaccine that isn't perfect.
Of the 36 confirmed cases in Clark County:
- 25 cases were found among children ages 1 to 10
- 10 cases were found among children 11 to 18
- 1 case was found among adults 19 to 29
Of the people found with the virus, 32 were unvaccinated. It is unclear whether the other four people were vaccinated or not.
One child remains hospitalized, officials said.
People with the disease may have exposed others at health clinics, schools, restaurants and other locations, including OMSI, Portland International Airport and the Moda Center. Click here for a full list of exposure sites.
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