Governor Wolf Provides Update on Response to Measles Outbreak

May 03, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf this afternoon provided an update on the recent measles outbreak in western Pennsylvania, reassuring residents that the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Allegheny County Health Department are working together to keep residents safe, and advising anyone who has concerns to visit the Allegheny County Health Department website to learn how to take advantage of the county’s free immunization clinics.

“The Pennsylvania Department of Health has been supporting the Allegheny County Health Department in any way it needs and stands ready to offer additional support,” Gov. Wolf said. “These departments have been in touch with the Centers for Disease Control and are singularly focused on ensuring accurate and useful information is distributed to all residents of Pennsylvania, but especially in Allegheny County where the five measles cases are confirmed.”

“Dr. Karen Hacker and the county’s Health Department officials acted very quickly in response when notified of the measles cases in the county,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “The cases are being monitored, investigations are in process, and we have also made public notifications regarding where there may have been potential exposures. We are grateful to the governor, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and staffs for reaching out to us and offering assistance and resources. The most recent vaccination rate for MMR of kindergartners in the county is 97.6 percent and while the risk is minimal, we appreciate that the state has been working with us to assist with any needs.”

Measles is a highly contagious but vaccine-preventable disease that spreads through coughing, sneezing or other contact with the mucus or saliva of an infected person. Symptoms typically appear 1 to 3 weeks after infection and include: rash; high fever; cough; and red, watery eyes.

According to Centers for Disease Prevention and Control those most at-risk are:

  • Infants less than one year of age who are too young to have received the MMR vaccine;
  • Individuals who refused vaccination; and
  • Individuals from parts of the world where there is low vaccination coverage or circulating measles.

Additionally, even if you were vaccinated, you may still be at risk if you were vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine, which was used from 1963 through 1967, and have not been revaccinated; or you were born after 1957 and have only received one dose of MMR vaccine.

“The best way to protect yourself against the measles, and a number of other serious, potentially life-threatening diseases is to get vaccinated,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We are in the middle of the worst measles outbreak in the United States since 2000, when the disease was considered eradicated in the U.S. However, due to anti-vaccination myths, the disease has returned, with over 700 cases reported through the end of April.”

“Thank you to the health care professionals who are working to treat patients and provide immunizations and education,” Gov. Wolf said. “It’s imperative that all Pennsylvanians remain up to date on their immunizations to protect themselves and those around them from very preventable, dangerous diseases such as measles.”

For any resident concerned about their immunization status, speak to your healthcare provider. The Department of Health offers immunization clinics year-round. Any child or adult who does not have insurance coverage or if insurance does not cover the necessary vaccinations and meets the requirements can get their vaccines at one of the state health centers or local health departments.

Anyone looking to visit a local immunization clinic to receive vaccinations should call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) to schedule an appointment. Pennsylvanians should have their vaccination records available when they call to make an appointment. A parent or legal guardian must accompany a child receiving vaccinations.

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