As of Feb. 6, the state of Washington has confirmed 51 cases of measles(www.doh.wa.gov) during what has become another vaccine-preventable outbreak in the United States. Forty-nine of the 50 cases of measles occurred in Clark County, Wash., and of these 49 cases, 42 of the patients were unimmunized and 34 were age 10 or younger. Of course, these outbreaks could be curbed if parents vaccinated their children with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), or measles, mumps, rubella and varicella/chickenpox (MMRV) vaccines.

AAFP interviews Public Health Director for Clark County Alan Melnick, MD, MPH., CPH. about the measles outbreak in Washington. Dr. Melnick said he really hopes family physicians across the country, and the AAFP, use the Washington measles outbreak to combat misinformation about vaccines, including MMR, that has been shared on social media. He also encouraged the AAFP to advocate for policy change to lead to higher vaccination rates and for adequate funding of the public health system to support public health departments in situations like the current measles outbreak. Finally, Dr. Melnick suggested family physicians take leadership roles in their communities, such as on the school board or as a team physician, advocating to improve immunization rates in student populations.

The full story with Dr. Melnick’s health advisory and immunization recommendations for patients during a measles outbreak is on the AAFP website.