Upstate University Doctor shares concerns about downstate measles outbreak

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The measles outbreak lasting months in downstate New York is getting worse. Rockland County, Brooklyn, and Queens have seen more than 500 confirmed cases of the virus since October.

If there ever were an outbreak in Central New York, one of the first places we’d see it is likely a school. There are more than a handful of schools in our area that have less than an 80% vaccination rate. The standard to protect a community is a minimum of 95%. That leaves these areas most vulnerable to an outbreak.

“It will only take one measles case to visit that particular school, that community of children who are not vaccinating, and the measles will spread like a wildfire,” said Dr. Jana Shaw, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

The highly contagious virus has been spreading at alarming rates over the last few months. It’s now raising concerns for all parts of the state. But when it comes to protecting yourself — Dr. Shaw said only a vaccination will do.

“At times when we have very safe and effective vaccines, I think it’s critical that we vaccinate those who can be safely vaccinated. So those who cannot can stay protected,” Dr. Shaw said. 

However, there are others who choose not to be vaccinated — mainly for religious reasons and in New York State, there are exemptions that allow them to opt out.

“It is a dangerous choice–not vaccinating is dangerous. And it not only affects their children, their family, but everybody else around them,” Dr. Shaw said.

Doctors like shaw can’t force patients to get the recommended shots — but it’s their job to educate them about what happens if they don’t.

“I think we all recognize we have right to believe in what we want to believe and this public health crisis. This is not about personal choices and imposing religious dogmas, this is about public health protection,” Dr. Shaw said.

Dr. Shaw said you should talk with your doctor about getting the measles vaccine if you haven’t already. once you do, it will take around two weeks for it to be effective. 

To see the immunization schedule recommended by the CDC, click here

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