SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – The measles outbreak in Washington state and Multnomah County has grown to 35 confirmed cases, and now hospitals in our area are fighting back.
“For most people, measles is just a fever and a rash, but for a small percentage it can kill you and we just need to be aware of that,” said Dr. Patrick Luedtke, senior public health officer with Lane County Public Health.
To limit the spread, PeaceHealth RiverBend in Springfield is making it tougher to visit the labor and delivery, mother-baby and neonatal intensive care units.
“They are not letting kids under 12 in regardless of if they're sick or not,” said Cristina Fregoso, a patient at RiverBend. “I am about to have a baby and I have a son who’s 7 and wants to be there when the baby is born and I’m afraid they aren't going to let him in.”
Luedtke said the measles vaccine can prevent the virus. Officials said out of the 35 people who have been diagnosed with the measles, 31 were not vaccinated. Nine cases involved children, and as of Monday, one child is still in the hospital.
Luedtke said in Lane County the vaccination rates aren’t as high as they would like them to be.
Across Oregon over the past few years there has been a trend where more parents are not vaccinating children because on non-medical exemptions. For instance, in 2015, Oregon’s non-medical exemption rate for kindergarteners was 5.8 percent. By 2018, that number was up to 7.5 percent.
Luedtke, as well as other doctors, recommend getting the vaccination and said they are safe and effective.