SAU #43 Health Alert: Measles Information
Due to recent outbreaks of measles in several states and concerns about the health safety of students who have been properly immunized for measles, Interim SAU #43 Superintendent Dr. Cindy Gallagher in conjunction with Newport Middle and High School Nurse, Kassy Helie, RN and Elementary School Nurse, Susan Strebel, RN has issued this statement to urge all parents to review their child’s immunization records to make sure that their children have been immunized according to health care expert recommendations.
If your student has been properly immunized, the frequency of contracting the disease is less than one percent. Measles is a serious respiratory disease, and vaccination is highly recommended. Measles starts with a fever, soon followed by a cough, runny nose and reddened eyes. A rash of tiny red spots breaks out starting at the head and spreading to the rest of the body. Measles can be serious for young children and may lead to pneumonia, encephalitis or death. The only way to protect your child from measles is by vaccination as the disease is highly contagious and more than 90 percent of unvaccinated people exposed to the disease will contract the disease according to information from the CDC.
According to regulations set by the New Hampshire Department of Education and the NH Immunization Program which distributes information to all school health committees and school nurses, in order for a student to enroll in a public or non-public school, every student must show immunization records that include two doses of measles vaccine. The first dose is given typically between 12 and 14 months of age and the second between ages 4 and 6 years. Pre-school students (ages 3 and 4) must show records of receiving one dose of the vaccine before attendance and must show records of the second vaccination by age 6.
Every school system is required to maintain an immunization record for children enrolled at their public or non-public school or child care agency. These records are carefully scrutinized by school nurses, and according to Helie and Strebel, no student is allowed to enter a school year until verification of age appropriate required immunizations is provided. Parents may opt out of immunizations for religious and health reasons, though no students have opted out at this time according to Strebel.
If you would like more information about measles or the vaccination requirements in New Hampshire schools, please visit the following web sites: http://www.cdc.gov/measles/ or http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/documents/measles.pdf.