Measles vaccination recommended to protect travelers after Chicago airport outbreak


Illinois is among ten states with a confirmed measles outbreak after another recent diagnosis.

The state’s Department of Public Health says the latest person took a flight to Chicago Midway International Airport last Friday, and people there might have been exposed.

Measles can spread through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms can take up to two weeks to appear.

“Measles is highly contagious just through the air,” says Janet Hill, Illinois Health Department Chief Operating Officer. “Just imagine being confined to an airplane, and someone has measles. That whole plane has been exposed to it. So you need to keep yourself vaccinated to keep yourself well.”

Health professionals tell Local 4 News, vaccinations are the only way to protect yourself as you travel.

9-in-10 unvaccinated people who are exposed to measles will catch it. The virus can live in a space for two hours.

Davenport pediatrician Dr. Elise Bream tells Local 4 News, you and your children being vaccinated helps those who medically cannot – like babies who can’t get their first dose until 12 months, or those with compromised immune systems.

“A lot of parents don’t understand the concept of herd immunity,” says Bream. “Where when the majority of us have the vaccination, we’re able to protect the people who can’t be vaccinated. And so it truly is for the greater good.”

There have been no reported measles cases in Rock Island or Scott Counties.

Illinois has had five measles cases so far this year – that’s the same number as all of last year.

Iowa hasn’t had a confirmed case since 2011.

Dr. Bream sticks to the facts about vaccines with parents because misinformation can be deadly.

“The biggest concern people have is the risk of autism related to MMR,” says Bream. “And that was based on a study that has been proven to be false, and many new studies show it’s not linked to autism.”

Davenport schools report 97-percent of students immunized. In Rock Island, it’s 99-percent.

A bill in the Iowa legislature that would exempt students for “conscientious beliefs” has stalled.

Currently, parents on both sides of the river can object to school vaccinations due to religious and medical reasons.

If you have any questions about vaccinations, Dr. Bream says to bring your specific concerns to your doctor.

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