Letters to the Editor: School district encourages measles vaccination

Letters to the Editor: School district encourages measles vaccination

Letters to the Editor

Dear Alameda community members,

As many of you have heard, several California counties are experiencing outbreaks of measles. On February 2, the California Department of Public Health reported that there were 92 confirmed cases of measles across the state. Fifty-nine of those have been linked to Disneyland parks. Here in Alameda County, the public health department has confirmed six cases of measles.

So far, we have had no confirmed cases of measles in the Alameda Unified School District. But I wanted to send a message to encourage all parents and guardians to vaccinate their children against measles and to let our community know what we are doing to keep our students, employees, and other community members safe.

First, a few facts:

According to the Alameda County Public Health Department, measles is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus. Early symptoms include a worsening fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes, followed by a rash that lasts for about a week. Most people who develop the measles recover in a week or so. But some people can develop diarrhea, middle ear infection, pneumonia, or brain damage from encephalitis. Measles is especially serious for infants, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.

Measles spreads through the air and on surfaces when infected people cough, sneeze, or share their food or drinks. An infected person is contagious for four days before and after the rash appears.

Here at the school district, we are currently compiling data on which students in which grades and schools are vaccinated and which are not, so that we can act quickly to protect our students and staff in the case of an outbreak. If that occurs, we will follow the county public health department's directive to exclude unvaccinated children from that school.

Again, we are encouraging the parents and guardians of unvaccinated children to vaccinate them against the measles as soon as possible. Vaccination is the best protection against this serious disease; just two doses of the vaccine are more than 99 percent effective in preventing it.

If you need help getting vaccinations for yourself or your children, please feel free to call me directly at 337-7072 or e-mail me at klara@alameda.k12.ca.us. I would be happy to help you find a clinic that can provide this protection to your family and our community.

Kelly Lara, director of student services
Alameda Unified School District