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Amid U.S. Measles Outbreak, Illinois Announces Push On Vaccinations

a woman being injected with a vaccine
Pan American Health Organization
via flickr.com/pahowho (CC BY-NC 2.0)
A woman is given a shot containing a vaccine.

Public health officials say they‘ll work to increase vaccination rates across Illinois.

The announcement comes as the the U.S. is expected to have the worst run of measles cases since the disease was deemed eliminated in the year 2000.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 626 cases have been reportednationwide, including seven in Illinois.

The CDC says this year’s measles was brought back from overseas — particularly Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines, each of which is experiencing a significant outbreak.

It also says measles can spread further in communities with low immunization rates.

Because of that, the Illinois Department of Public Health says it’ll send mobile units to those communities; try to reach people at county fairs, neighborhood parties, and churches; and work to fight misinformation about the safety of vaccines.

IDPH will also work with the Illinois State Board of Education to analyze data and try to learn why some schools have vaccination rates of less than 95 percent.

“Vaccination is our best tool to protect our families and while overall vaccination rates for the state are strong, some specific communities have lower rates and remain vulnerable to disease outbreaks,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of IDPH, said in a statement.

”Through a multifaceted approach that will include breaking down barriers to vaccination, targeted outreach, and education, IDPH is committed to increasing vaccination rates in every corner of Illinois and minimizing the threat of measles in our state,” she said.

IDPH says vaccination a “shared responsibility.” It says ignoring that responsibility could mean going back to a time when thousands died from measles every year.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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