PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Concern among parents in South Florida is growing over a national measles outbreak. The CDC says at least 764 cases have been confirmed in 2019 in 23 states, including two in Florida.
“We are actually getting a lot of phone calls from parents where they are asking about immunizations and is my child up-to-date,” said Dr. Lynda Bideau.
Bideau said the national outbreak has actually helped boost immunization awareness in the community.
“Sometimes now the parents are calling and asking to get their measles vaccines for their older child that never received,” said Dr. Bideau.
Doctors stress the easiest way to prevent getting the highly-contagious disease is a vaccine.
“So, the measles vaccine is given at 12 months of age and then a booster again in four to six months. It is required for daycare attendance once the child is 15 months of age, and then it is required a booster dose before the start of kindergarten so that is two doses,” said Dr. Bideau.
In Florida, you can get a religious or moral exemption through the health department. However, after two cases were recently reported in the state more people are reaching out to health care providers.
“Families coming to the welcome center are being more proactive,” said guidance service specialist Javier Ortolaza.
The free monthly immunization service at the Palm Beach County School District says a lot more families are expressing an interest in receiving all required shots, and earlier than ever before.
“So families who may speak other languages come and take advantage of this opportunity to be able to have their child ready for school in August,” said Ortolaza.
Anyone can get measles, but complications are more common in kids under 5 and adults over 20.
“A kid shouldn’t have to go through a disease if we can essentially eliminate it from our society,” said parent Joseph Tretola.
Measles is said to have been eradicated in the U.S. by 2000, but after more families began to opt out of immunizations cases started popping back up.
“That’s a problem,” said Tretola.
Doctors say there’s no cut off age for getting the vaccine so if your child was exempt before, but you’ve changed your mind you can still have them receive the shot. You just need to contact your local health care physician.