Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Measles Herd Immunity in Minnesota is Gone

Yesterday, Minnesota Public Radio reported that public health authorities are saying that 85% of two-year-olds in Minnesota have been vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella.

It's official: herd immunity is gone.

Herd immunity dies when vaccination rates dip below about 95%. If your child is unvaccinated, or has not received his or her booster, this is a potentially dangerous situation.

What Should I Do if I Live in Minnesota and...

My child is too young to be vaccinated: the outbreak is currently taking place in Hennepin County, most likely Minneapolis. While about half of the infected children are from the Somali community, the other half are from the community at large. We suggest staying away from public places where young children congregate, within reason. Skip that trip to the Children's Museum for now. Take a raincheck on playdates if you can't be sure everyone there has been vaccinated. If you must take your child to the pediatrician, try to stay in the "newborn" section (most pediatric practices have this) and cover your child's car seat with a blanket.

My child has not been vaccinated, but is old enough for the MMR: Get your child vaccinated. Today. Hennepin County has been holding free immunization clinics in Minneapolis that have been poorly attended. The details are below:

Sunday, March 27, 1-4pm, Children's Hospitals & Clinics, Minneapolis Speciality Center, 2530 Chicago Avenue South, third floor. 

Families with or without health insurance may attend these clinics; those with insurance should bring their insurance cards, those without insurance will not be charged for their vaccinations.

MMR shots also are available to the public at all regularly scheduled Hennepin County Immunization Services walk-in clinics.  MMR shots also are generally available, by appointment, from most family practice and pediatrician medical offices.

My child has been vaccinated, but is age four or under: Hennepin County is advising all parents of children who have received the MMR vaccine to schedule his or her booster--typically due at the four-year physical--now. For example, one of our children is turning four next month. He'll be going in to get his booster next week. One of us has an eighteen-month-old who received her MMR at her 12-month appointment; she will also be getting her booster next week.

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