By HEATHER POHLABEL
Daily Globe Staff Reporter
RICHLAND COUNTY - Richland Public Health is reminding residents that getting MMR vaccination (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) is still the smart thing to do."Having experienced the measles outbreak that started in March and ended in August, 2014, Richland Public Health officials know well the tremendous efforts that must be taken to stop an outbreak from expanding. The California measles outbreak currently involves seven western states and 125 individuals, the majority in California. The Ohio outbreak last March involved 377 cases," stated Reed Richmond, health educator for Richland Public Health.Measles is an acute, highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is easily spread. Symptoms of the measles usually appear in 7-18 days after exposure. The disease is highly contagious and can be transmitted from four days prior to the onset of the rash to four days after the onset. Measles can cause serious complications such as middle ear infections, eye infections, infections of the airways and lungs, dangerously high fever and even death. Generally, if you were born before 1957 you are considered immune, Richmond advised."Adults born in 1957 or after should contact their medical provider and get vaccinated to protect themselves from this highly contagious virus," said Martin Tremmel, health commissioner at Richland Public Health. "Parents should review their children's vaccination records to assure that they are up-to-date on their MMR vaccines," Mr. Tremmel added.For young children, ages 3 and 4, who have received one dose of the MMR vaccine, Richland Public Health is strongly recommending all children get two doses of the MMR vaccine. There is no need to wait until kindergarten to get the second dose - get it now.Also, since children less than 6 months of age cannot be vaccinated, the Ohio Department of Health is recommending that parents not travel to those areas where there have been reported outbreaks.Medical Director/Health Commissioner of the Shelby City Health Department Dr. Ajay Chawla encourages parents to vaccinate their children. "You want to do what is best for your children. You know about the importance of car seats, baby gates and other ways to keep them safe. But, did you know that one of the best ways to protect your children is to make sure they have all of their vaccinations?"In some pockets of the country, a rising number of parents are delaying shots for their kids or skipping certain ones altogether, citing religious or philosophical exemptions from state laws that require kids to be vaccinated in order to attend school. As a result, there have been recent outbreaks of serious diseases that vaccines had virtually wiped out in the U.S., including measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), and haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), which was once the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in kids under 5," Chawla stated.Chawla recognizes parents' concerns with vaccinations, but assures the public there is no medical proof that vaccines are dangerous. "Many people believe that the increased number of vaccines -- children now get twice as many as they did in 1980 and can receive up to 20 injections by their first birthday -- are to blame for the rise in kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, at least seven large studies in major medical journals have now found no association between the MMR vaccine and ASD," Chawla reported.Chawla provided five important reasons to vaccinate.1. Immunizations can save your child's life. Because of advances in medical science, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children, have been eliminated completely and others are close to extinction - primarily due to safe and effective vaccines.2. Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.3. Immunization protects others you care about. Children in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, we have seen resurgences of measles and whooping cough (pertussis) over the past few years. In 2010 the U.S. had over 21,000 cases of whooping cough reported and 26 deaths, most in children younger than 6 months. Unfortunately, some babies are too young to be completely vaccinated and some people may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.4. Immunizations can save your family time and money. A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or child care facilities. The Vaccines for Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families.5. Immunization protects future generations. Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. For example, smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide."If we continue vaccinating now, and vaccinating completely, parents in the future may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future," he stated.Immunizations for adults and children are available by appointment through the Richland Public Health Clinic. Please call (419) 774-4700 to schedule an appointment. Immunizations are also available at Richland Public Health any Neighborhood Immunization Clinic; call 419-774-8115 for the schedule or visit www.richlandhealth.org.Richland Public Health also recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Richland Public Health has an International Travel Immunization program available by appointment through the Clinic at (419) 774-4700.The Shelby City Health Department contracts with Richland Public Health to provide immunizations. Immunization clinics are the second Wednesday of each month, 10:00 am-12:30 pm and 2:00 pm. to 4:00 pm. Please bring photo identification, insurance card and immunization record. If an immunization record needs to be recovered by the health department, please call 419-342-5226 prior to the clinic date. This is a walk-in clinic and no appointments will be taken.