New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency in the ongoing measles outbreak affecting parts of New York City and ordered mandatory vaccinations in several neighborhoods. So far this year, there have been 465 measles cases nationwide, according to the CDC.
Regarding the announcement and the disease overall, Dr. Sharon Nachman, Division Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Professor of Pediatrics at Stony Brook Children's Hospital, says:
- Measles is highly contagious. Breathing the air of a room where someone with measles was in (even if they are not still in it) will result in an individual getting this infection. Think about all the public places you and your family go to such as the supermarket, the movies, and the laundromat. A person, even while just having the runny nose and cough of measles, could infect everyone in those locations.
- This infection has serious consequences. It can lead to pneumonia, viral hepatitis and of long-term concern, post viral encephalitis.
- The vaccine is safe. It does not contain mercury or any preservative--that's why we see it administered to each person as a single use shot. Multiple use vaccine vials have preservative. Single use vials have none.
- Extra doses of live vaccines only boost protection. They are not associated with any local or fever reactions.
- We care about our community. That's why it's everyone's job to keep it safe. We don't let people drink and drive and we ask that everyone vaccinate at-risk children--so we can protect those that are at risk for infection but can't be vaccinated to protect themselves.
Dr. Nachman is available for interview by phone, Skype or live via the VideoLink Studio located on the Stony Brook University campus. To schedule an interview with her, please contact Kali Chan, Director of Medicine Media Relations at (631) 487-4092 or Kali.Chan@stonybrookmedicine.