What is the vaccination rate of your school against measles?


Your children could be vaccinated against measles, but what about their classmates?

Only 9.8% of public and private schools in the suburbs have vaccinated measles against 100% of the student population, and some have vaccination rates below 80%, according to data compiled by the Council of Education. of the State of Illinois.

With recent outbreaks of measles reported throughout the country, local experts urge families to make sure their vaccines are up-to-date to protect themselves and others from the rapidly spreading disease.

According to the World Health Organization, a measles immunization rate of between 93% and 95% is needed to stop the spread of a contagious disease within a population. A concept called "collective immunity", according to health experts. The risks of measles outbreaks increase if levels of protection fall below this threshold, said Dr. Andy Bernstein of North Suburban Pediatrics in Buffalo Grove and Evanston.

"It can take like wildfire," he said. "It's a very contagious disease and, as soon as vaccination rates in a community decrease significantly, they spread very easily."

Illinois is one of six states that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, experienced an epidemic, with five cases in January and February. A person arrived on a plane for Chicago Midway Airport and, a few days later, was taken in charge at the Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva, which brought the Department of Public Health from Illinois to send a public warning to people who may have been exposed.

Illinois requires schoolchildren to be vaccinated against measles and many other communicable diseases, from polio to chicken pox to diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus.

With respect to measles, almost 94% of schools in the Cook Districts in the suburbs and in the collar districts are within range to achieve herd immunity, based on marital status. Many institutions below this level have more students exempted from the law because of religious objections to being vaccinated.

A medical objection, such as a compromised immune system or a severe allergic reaction to vaccines, is the only other valid reason for exempting schoolchildren from being vaccinated in Illinois. said ISBE spokeswoman Jackie Matthews.

A philosophical exemption is allowed in some parts of the country, although Congress has discussed the prohibition of all exemptions other than medical. California, West Virginia and Mississippi are the only states to do so far.

Under the McKinney-Vento Act, homeless students are also not required to provide proof of immunization in order to begin attending school. While understanding their protected rights, Palatine Township Elementary 15 officials are taking additional steps to ensure these students receive the required injections, said government spokeswoman Morgan Delack.

"We are really trying to work with our families who fall into this category (…) and provide them with access to medical clinics to get vaccinated," she said.

Palatine schools were in a state of alert during the 2015 measles outbreak in a day care center, prompting some parents to vaccinate their children earlier than usual, said Delack. Four years later, "we do not usually fear" that such an epidemic will occur in District 15, she said. "We have a very high percentage of vaccinated students."

At nearly 92%, Lake Louise Elementary School had the district's lowest vaccination rate in 2017-18, according to ISBE data. The other schools in District 15 ranged from 95 to 99 percent.

Of the suburban schools, 76 had measles immunization rates below 90%, which means that one in 10 students is not vaccinated. Almost all of them are private schools, but South School in Westmont, Grass Lake Elementary School in Antioch, and the Meadows Country Elementary School in Long Grove fall into this category.

Children usually receive their first measles vaccine at the age of 12 months and a second between 4 and 6 years of age, said Dr. Tina Tan, an infectious disease specialist at Ann & Robert H. Hospital. Lurie for kids from Chicago. Vaccination is 93% effective after the first dose and 97% after the second, according to the CDC.

Although the likelihood that an immune person will contract the disease is very low, Bernstein said that "no vaccine is 100%". To further complicate the problem, he said, a person can be contagious until four days before presenting the signs of measles.

Among those most vulnerable to measles are sickness-free children, adults with weakened immune systems, and infants under one year of age who have not yet received the vaccine, Bernstein said. Even fully immunized patients may be at risk if they take certain medications, such as chemotherapy, steroid treatment or anti-inflammatory drugs, "anything that weakens the immune system," he said.

Public health problems related to vaccination have increased worldwide as more and more people have adopted anti-vaccination practices, Tan said. "Vaccine hesitancy" was ranked by the World Health Organization as one of the top 10 global health threats in 2019.

Much of the hesitation probably stems from the misinformation found on the internet and social media claiming that vaccines can lead to neurological problems, Tan said, adding that there was no data scientist demonstrating a correlation.

A study published last week in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirmed that there was no link between measles, mumps, rubella and autism vaccine after a study of 657,461 children in Canada. Denmark.

One group that has always received a religious exemption is Christian scientists, whose spiritual practices are based on prayer for healing. But the church is also aware of public health issues, abides by laws, and has close relationships with local health departments, said Tim Mitchinson, of the Illinois Christian Science Committee on Publication.

In a statement released last month, leaders of the Christian Scientific Committee said that denomination members are free to decide to vaccinate their children.

"The current public controversy about immunization has given rise to strong opinions – and strong divisions – on the conflicting concerns of public health and the tolerance of diversity," the statement said. "Whatever the good legislative answer … for the moment, Christian scientists hope that their long experience as a religious minority working in cooperation with the majority of society could indicate the possibility of a resolution based on the mutual respect and understanding in the best interest of everything. "

The recent measles cases in the country have, at the very least, drawn attention to an important issue, Bernstein said, noting that health officials are working everywhere to correct misconceptions about immunization.

"We are lucky to live in the United States where you can get these vaccines so easily, and I'm glad this is discussed," he said. "Vaccines are important, safe and there is literally nothing worrying."

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