Health officials urging Iowans, check medical records for measles vaccine

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LINN COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) In light of Iowa’s first measles case since 2011, public health officials are urging Iowans to check their medical records to make sure they’ve received the vaccine for measles.

It’s a highly contagious disease that only takes two shots to help prevent. County officials said if medical records are unavailable, getting re-vaccinated won’t hurt you.

Linn County Public Health’s, Clinical Services Branch Supervisor, Heather Meador said, “People should be very concerned about measles, it’s highly, highly contagious.”

The disease causes initial symptoms of a runny nose, watery eyes, a cough and a fever. However, it’s more serious than the cold and comes with a signature rash.

The measles has now made it’s way into Iowa. According to county health officials, like Meador, protecting yourself is key.

“This is really one of those things where prevention really does count, we really need people to be vaccinated to help stop measles from spreading in our community,” said Meador.

It’s a disease that can live in the air and linger in a room for up to two hours, even after the infected person leaves. That makes highly populated areas like malls or airports more of a danger to those unprotected.

“So if someone with measles is on an elevator, they get off, you’re susceptible and you get on that elevator, even though they’ve been off for an hour, you could still pick up that virus. So it’s very very contagious,” said Meador.

The disease takes four days to show symptoms, time someone could unknowingly spread it. Officials say something as easy as two shots can prevent.

“The vaccine is out there, it is plentiful, it’s not hard to find the vaccine. This is one of those things where prevention really does count. We really need people to be vaccinated to help prevent Measles from spreading in our community,” said Meador.

At this time, Linn County Public Health has no plans to set up vaccination clinics. However, officials said children attending public school or a D.H.S. approved child care center, are mandated to have the vaccine. As long as they don’t have a medical waiver.

The Iowa Public Health Department does track the number of religious exemptions, you can find that information here. 

For those concerned with cost, there’s a federally funded program called ‘Vaccines for Children’. It provides free vaccines to qualifying children that are 18 years and younger. For more information regarding the program, contact your county health department or visit this link.

In the past, Iowa only required one shot for Measles. However, that was increased in 1991 to 2, for children in schools. The extra shot increases immunity from 93% to 97% effective.

Ashley Neighbor

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids
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