Earlier this year, the United States experienced a large, multi-state measles outbreak linked to Disneyland in California. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the disease is believed to have started with a traveler who became infected with measles overseas, then visited the theme park while infected.
The majority of people who contracted the measles during this outbreak and four other outbreaks resulting in 178 cases of measles nationwide this year weren’t vaccinated for the disease.
One in four people who contract measles have to be hospitalized. Even more frightening, one out of every 1,000 people with measles develops brain swelling, which leads to brain damage. Another one or two of the 1,000 will die from the disease, even with the best of care.
But that was California and the outbreak was due to a traveler. That will never happen here, right? Think again.
In fact, think about the recent Ride the Rockies bicycle tour or Country Jam music festival, or simply think about school or daycare, a grocery store or restaurant or your work. How many people do you come in contact with on a daily basis?
What if someone with the flu touches the produce you’re about to buy?
What if your server didn’t wash his hands properly before handing you a drink?
What if someone with a bloody paper cut touches the door handle before you?
What if they’re not vaccinated? What if you’re not?
Vaccinations constitute a social responsibility: We have the power to protect ourselves and those who can’t get vaccinated due to medical reasons or age. We can’t deny vaccines are controversial. Despite all the myths, however, vaccines remain a vital factor in the overall well-being of the community and certainly the workplace.
Making the individual decision to vaccinate means fewer missed work days for employees and school days for their kids. Time lost from work to care for a sick child can disrupt your team. Vaccine-preventable diseases can cause lasting disability, resulting in expensive medical bills and long-term care, which could drive up insurance costs for a company.
HealthyPeople.gov estimates immunizations not only prevent 14 million cases of disease and save 33,000 lives each year, they also reduce direct health care costs by $9.9 billion. Another estimated $33.4 billion in indirect costs are saved annually.
Educate employees about the importance of vaccinations and encourage them to get them. It makes good business sense.
The Mesa County Health Department offers immunizations for adults and children. We can help you identify which vaccines your child needs ahead of this school year.
Appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon Friday. Walk-ins are also welcome from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 to 11 a.m. Friday.
Discounts are available for essential services based on family size and income. The health department serves all patients regardless of inability to pay and accepts Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan.
For more information, contact the public health clinic at 248-6900 or visit www.health.mesacounty.us.