By: Destiny Chance,
Dr. Phil Huang is the Health Authority and Medical Director for Austin Public Health. He says immunizations are one of the greatest public health achievements.
According to the Texas Association of City and County Health Officials, before the measles vaccine became licensed in 1963 there were more than 500,000 cases reported every year in the U.S. This resulted in 48,000 hospitalizations and between 450 and 500 deaths.
Now, those numbers have dropped tremendously, but there’s a spike nationwide in measles cases.Specifically, in Washington state, and now Atlanta Georgia. Dr. Huang says, “Right now measles is still rare. We haven’t had a case of the measles in Austin in over a decade.”
Luckily it’s not an issue in Austin, Travis County.
Dr. Huang says in 2018, there were 6 reported cases of the measles in other parts of Texas, and in 2013 there were more than 20. But he still urges Texans to pay attention to what’s going on in other states. He adds, “The virus can stay in a room for 2 hours after someone with the disease has been in there. It can be on surfaces. It’s estimated someone with measles 90 percent of the people around them that aren’t vaccinated or susceptible would come down with measles.”
According to medicine publisher and advocacy organization, the Public Library of Science, Austin is one of 14 so called hot spots around the U.S. where there’s a delay or refusal to vaccinate.
Jackie Schlegel, the executive director of Texans For Vaccine Choice. says her group encourages parents that it’s okay to form their own opinion and choice on if they want their kids to get vaccines or not. According to Texas Health Department data, about 49% of kids attending a private school here in Austin called Waldorf School, are unvaccinated.
They released a statement saying in part:
“The Austin Waldorf School does not counsel parents about these health care decisions. These decisions are solely the responsibility of parents and made in consultation with their family physician.”
Dr. Huang says to visit your local physician to learn your personal scheduling for the vaccine for measles.