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Free Measles Vaccine Clinic Today

Department of Health warns of possible exposure in Lehigh County

A free measles vaccine clinic will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. today at the Lehigh County State Health Center, 3730 Lehigh Street, Whitehall. No appointment is necessary.

State health officials are urging residents who may be susceptible to measles to get vaccinated in the wake of possible local exposure to the highly contagious illness.

The Department of Health yesterday announced that someone who may have measles to it last Friday at KNBT bank and the liquor store on Chestnut Street in Emmaus, Lehigh County.

Other potential exposure occurred in Berks, Bucks and Delaware counties last week.

This possible exposure is in direct link to the July 11 exposure reported at the Rite Aid Drug Store, 3145 Main St., in Morgantown, Berks County.

Most people in the United States are immune to measles, either because they received the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine in childhood or because they were exposed to measles prior to the use of vaccines.

The following groups are at risk of becoming infected with measles if exposed:

  • Infants less than 1 year old who are too young to have received the MMR vaccine
  • People who were vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine, which was used from 1963 through 1967, and have not been revaccinated
  • People born after 1957 who have only received one dose of MMR vaccine
  • Those who refused vaccination
  • Those from parts of the world where there is low vaccination coverage or circulating measles.

Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus. Symptoms will begin one to two weeks after exposure, and include a runny nose, watery eyes, cough and a high fever. After four days, a raised, red rash starts to spread on the face, down the body and out to the arms and legs. The rash usually lasts four to seven days.

An individual with measles can spread the virus to others for four days before and four days after the rash begins. It is spread by infected droplets during sneezing or coughing, touching contaminated objects, and direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.

Infected droplets and secretions can remain contagious on surfaces for up to two hours.

If you or your children are at risk for measles and become ill with symptoms one to two weeks after possible exposure, you should contact your health care provider immediately and say you’ve been exposed to measles so that precautions can be taken to avoid exposing anyone else and the cause of illness can be determined.

Complications from measles can include ear infection, diarrhea and pneumonia, encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and even death. Measles can also cause miscarriages or premature delivery in pregnant women.

The MMR vaccine can help prevent infection if it is given within three days of exposure. There is no risk in getting an additional dose of the MMR vaccine for individuals who may have already received it.

For people who can’t receive the MMR vaccine (pregnant women, infants under 6 months old, persons with compromised immune systems), or if it has been more than three days since your exposure, a dose of immune globulin can provide protection up to six days after the date of exposure.

For more information about measles, call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (877-724-3258) or visit www.health.state.pa.us.

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