Measles exposure to keep some from returning to school - The Daily Progress: News

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Measles exposure to keep some from returning to school

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Posted: Monday, June 6, 2011 9:55 pm | Updated: 1:43 pm, Wed Jan 23, 2013.

A group of students at the Charlottesville Waldorf School will spend their last week of classes at home after a measles scare last month.

Officials at the school declined on Monday to say how many of their 174 students will remain home this week because they were not vaccinated when exposed to measles on May 20. The last day of school at CWS is Friday.

Four people in Charlottesville are continuing to recover after contracting measles last month, according to Dr. Lilian Peake, director of the Thomas Jefferson Health District.

Amanda Tipton, school coordinator at CWS, said one of those four measles cases is a CWS student.

But Tipton said she would not release how many of the school’s students were exposed and not vaccinated.

She said sharing that information on the number of students not allowed to return to school because of possible exposure would violate the families’ right to privacy.

“If a parent for religious reasons or whatever reason decides not to vaccinate a child there is nothing we can do,” Tipton said. “We cannot make the decision to vaccinate for the parent.”

CWS students were exposed to measles after coming in contact with an adult female who contracted the disease while traveling in India, health officials have said.

Peake said that as of Monday, 34 people are still self-isolating due to the fact they were exposed to those infected and are not properly vaccinated against measles. Those people will be able to go about their regular activities on June 11, she said.

Peake declined to say how many of those quarantined are students at the CWS.

“I don’t have a breakdown of how many of those numbers are students,” Peake said.

Officials at CWS, which serves children from preschool to the eighth grade, have met regularly since finding out about the first measles case, Tipton said.

Teachers are working with all of the families of the isolated students to ensure class assignments are completed before the school year, Tipton said.

Each class will have a gathering after June 10 so students who are quarantined can see their friends again, Tipton said.

“It’s been especially hard for the students who won’t be returning next year,” Tipton said.

According to Virginia law, all students entering public and private schools and day cares must have current vaccination records or a waiver citing medical or religious exemption from vaccination requirements.

Tipton declined to say how many of the school’s students have vaccination waivers in place, but said all of the parents complied with the decision to keep the children out of school because of possible exposure.

Peake said the recent measles outbreak has got people talking about the issue of vaccinations and the local health department office has been filled on vaccination days.

“We have had a lot of people asking questions and I think it’s brought awareness to the issue,” Peake said.

In recent years, some parents have gotten away from vaccinating their children out of fear the vaccines could lead to childhood illnesses, such as autism.

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles has been mostly eradicated in the United States, but it still kills nearly 200,000 people around the world each year.

Complications from measles in children can include ear infections and pneumonia, and one or two children die out of every 1,000 who contract the disease, according to the CDC.

From January until May 20, a total of 118 cases of measles were reported in the U.S., according to the CDC. The Charlottesville cases were not included in these numbers.

In the Charlottesville cases, the two children and one adult had not been vaccinated, Peake said. The vaccination history of the second adult case is not known.

Health officials say measles is preventable by getting the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Two doses are recommended for most individuals with the first dose given at age 12 to 15 months and the second dose given prior to a child entering kindergarten.

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