Dr. Richard Pan Makes Statement On Measles Outbreak in Nevada County

March 29, 2016

SACRAMENTO- Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and State Senator representing the Sacramento region, made the following statement regarding recent reports of a measles outbreak at Yuba River Charter School in Nevada County, where records show that only about 43 percent of Kindergarteners who entered the school in the fall of 2015 were up-to-date with vaccinations:

“Measles is a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening disease, and SB 277 was passed last year to boost community immunity and prevent outbreaks like the one now occurring in Nevada County.  When schools begin to implement the new law this fall and more children are vaccinated, we will begin to boost our immunity levels which have declined to dangerously low levels in many communities in the state.”

To prevent outbreaks of measles, about 94 percent of the people in a community need to be vaccinated.  When a neighborhood has lost community immunity, everyone is at increased risk of becoming infected, including people who cannot be immunized such as infants, patients on chemotherapy and other immune suppressing treatments, and those with HIV or other immune conditions.

It is unfortunate that there are people who continue to perpetuate misinformation about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and minimize the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases that have disabled and killed millions annually before vaccines were available.  For example, a fraudulent study in 1998 that purported a link between the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism has been thoroughly discredited, yet this and other myths about vaccines continue to be perpetuated.  What research does show is that pockets of unimmunized people accelerate and expand outbreaks of contagious disease such as measles, one in five people infected with measles require hospitalization, and infection with measles increases a patient’s risk for catching other infections for up to three years after the being infected with measles. In addition, measles outbreaks disrupt schools and communities as students and family members are quarantined to control the spread of the disease and costs are incurred to both identify potentially infected people and treat the disease.

California schools will begin to implement SB 277 in the fall of 2016 at the start of the school year.

# # #