Concerns over measles virus spreading to Utah arise after outbreaks in Oregon, Washington State

SALT LAKE CITY — In Oregon and Washington State health officials are trying to control an outbreak of measles that has already infected dozens of people. Both states currently allow parents to opt out of getting the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine.

900 miles away here in Utah, Intermountain Health Care experts like Dr. Tamara Sheffield are urging the public to get vaccines for their kids if they haven’t yet.

“We’re just really one airplane flight from bringing a case here and once a case comes into a population that’s not fully vaccinated we see outbreaks,” Dr. Sheffield said.

Dr. Sheffield said that a population has to be 95 percent vaccinated before it's possible to keep people from being infected. Right now, Utah’s population does not reach that mark.

“Kids who are under the age of 12 months can’t get vaccinated, pregnant women can’t get vaccinated, our school children are not vaccinated to the 95 percent level,” Dr. Sheffield said.

Rebecca Ward, with the Utah Department of Health, told FOX 13 that a person can get their first dose of the MMR vaccine anytime after 12 months of age and the second dose of the vaccine is recommended before a child starts kindergarten.

“If you get both doses of the measles vaccine you’re looking at about 97 percent protection,” Ward said. “The good news is that Utah has no measles cases. We have no measles cases associated with this outbreak and we have no measles at all."

While there are no currently reported measles cases, there was a case of the mumps reported in Davis County.

To learn more about the MMR vaccine and to see a list of signs and symptoms of the measles virus, visit the Intermountain Healthcare website.

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