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North Carolina health officials urge public to vaccinate against measles as nation faces outbreaks

Measles cases in the United States have surpassed the highest number on record since the disease was declared eliminated nationwide in 2000.

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has one request for the state: vaccinate against measles.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 764 people from 23 states ended up with confirmed cases of measles from Jan. 1 to May 2, 2019, the DHHS said in a news release.

While there have been no confirmed cases in North Carolina this year, the state warns that outbreaks have gotten as close as Georgia and Tennessee.

“Measles is a highly contagious disease and it spreads quickly in children and adults who are not vaccinated,” said Elizabeth Tilson, state health director and DHHS chief medical officer. “All North Carolinians should ensure they and their families are up-to-date on their MMR vaccine.”

This respiratory disease can lead to pneumonia and other complications — especially in young children. And pregnant women face a serious risk of miscarriage or premature birth.

Measles spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing and through secretions from the nose and mouth.

In order to avoid contracting the measles, the DHHS recommends getting the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

Children are recommended to get the first dose at 1 year old and the second between 4- and 6 years old.

Adults born in 1957 or later who haven’t gotten the vaccine are recommended to get at least one dose. College students, healthcare workers and international travelers should get two.

“Vaccines are one of the most important public health successes in protecting the health of our people and preventing disease and death, especially among our most vulnerable community members,” Tilson said. “The science is very clear; the MMR vaccine is highly effective, safe and readily available. We hope these preventable outbreaks will encourage everyone who has not been vaccinated to contact their primary health care provider or local health department.”

To find where you can receive a vaccine, visit https://vaccinefinder.org. More information about measles is available at http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/rubeola.html.

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