The following was written by Kayla Scrivner, a program manager of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s Communicable Disease department:
As public health-investigators in Southwest Washington work to contain a measles outbreak that made at least 16 kids sick, remember a few things:
Outbreaks like the one Clark County is experiencing happen in Pierce County.
They can happen here again.
Most are completely preventable.
BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Make sure you and your kids are vaccinated. It’s the neighborly thing to do. Immunizations don’t just protect you; they also protect the people you love.
Older folks, kids and people with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable during an outbreak. The community at large is also affected:
- Kids get sick and can’t go to school.
- Unvaccinated kids usually aren’t allowed at school during an outbreak.
- Parents must stay home from work to take care of these children.
- Sick people go to the emergency room for conditions they could have prevented with a simple vaccine. This means longer wait times for everyone and potential exposure to illnesses in the waiting room.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
Two years ago, we had our worst mumps outbreak in years. When outbreaks happen, our disease investigators spring into action to track and control them. They partner with healthcare providers and hospitals to find people potentially exposed to the disease and connect them to treatment, if needed. Our investigators do this work every day, whether it’s one case or an outbreak of hundreds.
These are some of the Foundational Public Health Services we believe everybody is entitled to. The state legislature granted us funding in 2017 to focus on these areas. That helped us quickly identify and contain a hepatitis C outbreak last year.
These crises strain public health resources and eat away at our already-shrinking funding. More importantly, people get sick when they don’t have to.
That’s why we work so hard to prevent outbreaks before they begin and connect people with vaccines for measles, mumps, pertussis, tuberculosis, hepatitis and other diseases.
Everybody in Pierce County can protect their family and neighbors by getting free or low-cost immunizations.
It’s readily available.
It’s the neighborly thing to do.