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Although West Virginia has not yet had a case of measles during outbreaks across the country, the WV Immunization Network is encouraging vaccinations to keep residents safe. 

The WV Immunization Network, a statewide coalition focused on protecting West Virginians from vaccine-preventable diseases, said measles cases have been identified in the neighboring states of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Kentucky. 

“To prevent measles outbreaks, our communities must have high vaccination rates,” said Sarah Ward, Co-Chair of the WV Immunization Network and nurse at Rainelle Medical Center. “Every community member plays an important role in preventing an outbreak and protecting those who cannot be vaccinated, such as infants.”

West Virginia does have high measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates among school age students, but the virus has potential to enter the state and spread, particularly among individuals who are not immune.

To prevent potential spread, the WV Immunization Network encourages citizens to check with their health care provider to see if they are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

The CDC recommends that children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at 4 to 6 years of age. If a child is traveling internationally, he/she may be able to receive the vaccine at a younger age.

The CDC also recommends that adults who do not have evidence of immunity receive at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Health care personnel (not just clinical staff), university and vocational students, and international travelers should receive two doses of MMR, though.

The release said measles is a highly contagious viral disease with symptoms that can include fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes, commonly followed by a rash that covers the body. The virus can lead to ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, and in some cases, brain damage or death.

For more information, visit cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/measles

— Email: wholdren@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren

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