Culver City Observer -

Measles

School District Moves To Protect Students, Staff

 

February 19, 2015

By Lynne Bronstein

Observer Reporter

The recent outbreak of measles in Southern California is of concern to parents and school districts. Both legislators and educators are taking action to control the spread of this highly infectious disease.

At the state level State Senator Dr. Richard Pan, a practicing pediatrician, is planning to introduce a bill to notify parents of their child's school vaccination rates. Dr. Pan authored a 2013 bill, AB 2109, requiring parents who exempt a child from school vaccinations to talk with a licensed health care practitioner about the impacts to their child and community.

A number of parents in California communities have used the "personal belief" exemption to keep their children from being vaccinated according to legal requirements.

After an outbreak of measles was reported to have affected attendees at Disneyland in December 2013 more cases have been reported, including one case at a day care center in Santa Monica, near Culver City.

CBS News recently reported that the total number of measles cases nationwide is up to at least 155 cases in 16 states.

"As a pediatrician, I have personally witnessed children suffering life-long injury and death from vaccine-preventable infection," said Dr. Pan, who represents Sacramento and West Sacramento. "While I am pleased that more families are choosing to immunize their children and the statewide rates are going in the right direction, it is important to know that there are pockets of the state where the low vaccination rates continue to put children at risk.

"Vaccines prevent serious and potentially life-threatening diseases and parents deserve to know the rates at the school they trust to protect their child."

The new law proposed by Dr. Pan would notify parents of their child's school immunization rates as well as what public health officials recommend the vaccinate rate should be in order to protect people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD) Superintendent David LaRose has prepared a letter to families in the school district, which he shared with the Observer. The letter reads in part:

Dear CCUSD Families,

As you may know, Southern California is currently experiencing a measles outbreak. Culver City Unified School District cares about the health and safety of our students, employees, parents and local community. Therefore, we feel compelled to share some important information about what CCUSD is doing to protect our students and staff.

As you are aware, measles is a highly contagious airborne respiratory disease caused by a virus. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.

Though there have been no reported cases of measles among students or staff on any of our campuses, it is important for all of us to remain vigilant regarding the recent outbreak of measles in Southern California. CCUSD will follow the Department of Public Health guidelines if there is a case of measles and has worked with employees throughout the District to educate them about what to look for in those exhibiting signs and symptoms of measles.

Knowing that the best way to prevent measles is to get immunized, we are currently evaluating the vaccination status of all students. The data for new and incoming kindergarten students is still being entered into Aeries, our Student Information System, and our nurses are currently checking health records by hand to determine if and how many unvaccinated students we have on our campuses.

As we find students who have not been vaccinated, we are reaching out to the families of those students to make sure our records are current and discuss the benefits of vaccination at this time, as well as the discussing the District's policy on exclusion in the event of a measles outbreak (which is one reported case). Again, CCUSD has no reported cases of measles among students or staff on any of our campuses.

La Rose's letter goes on to ask that adults get the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine if they have not been immunized or don't know if they were. Children should receive their first dose of MMR vaccine at 12-15 months of age and a second dose at 4-6 years of age.

CCUSD is also encouraging its employees to get vaccinated.

"We have been in regular communication with the Department of Public Health, participated in a teleconference regarding Measles Preparedness for School and regularly monitor student attendance/health with our school teams," LaRose's letter concludes. "Without question, the health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority and we thank you for sharing in this great responsibility."

More information on public health care providers and insurance that covers vaccines can be found at http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip/IZclinics/clinics.htm.

Parents can also consult the California Department of Health website at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Measles.aspx.

 

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