By Brianna McAdoo, Special to the AFRO
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser is giving residents easier access to vaccination in an effort to combat the nation wide measles outbreak before it has the chance to hit the area.
On July 15 the mayor launched her “Don’t Wait, Vaccinate” campaign and announced she will be providing the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccination to all eight wards of D.C. at 42 different health centers in the city.
Bowser shared her concern about the disease spreading.“The world is small…People travel all around and if you’re exposed just for minutes, airborne exposure to measles for an unvaccinated person can be very harmful and even deadly,” she said.
There have been no reported cases of measles in D.C. but the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention confirmed cases in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania which are all states with large numbers of people who commute to the District regularly.
The “Don’t Wait, Vaccinate” campaign is an appeal to the parents of children and teens attending school in the District to immunize their young learner’s before the start of the 2019-2020 school year. Just having 95 percent of the population vaccinated tremendously prevents the possibility of measles spreading and creates a safety net for those most vulnerable to the disease such as newborns and immunocompromised people.
D.C Health has published the immunization requirements for the 2019-2020 school year which can be found here.
Currently in the District, the immunization compliance breakdown is as follows: Public Schools (93.02 percent), Charter (93.25 percent), Private (91.95 percent), Parochial (87.29 percent) and LCDC (89.72 percent).
“We know that it’s more than likely we can have an outbreak that spreads very quickly if our rates are below 95 percent,” said Director of the D.C. Department of Health LaQuandra Nesbitt “What we benefit from… .called herd immunity.. .goes away when we’re below 95 percent. So we all need to band together and have our children vaccinated so that we can get those rates back up above 95 percent.”
The District’s current immunization rate is 91 percent.
Although in 2000 the measles was declared eliminated by the United States, in 2019 1,123 cases have been confirmed by the CDC in 28 states in the US.