Public Health Guidelines for Measles in Schools

Public Health Guidelines for Measles in Schools
Posted on 02/01/2019
Public Health Guidelines for Measles in Schools


February 1, 2019

Dear South Whidbey Parents and Guardians:

A large measles outbreak is happening in Clark County, in southwest Washington. Additionally, King County just confirmed a measles case. So far there are no reports of measles in Island County.

Measles is a serious disease that can cause brain, spinal cord and lung infections and death. Measles is very contagious even before a rash appears. It spreads easily through the air and can stay in the air 2 hours after an infected person leaves an area.

Two shots of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine can prevent measles almost 100% of the time. All it takes is 1 shot at 12 to 15 months of age and a second shot at 4 to 6 years of age. People not vaccinated on schedule can get 1 shot now and a second shot 1 month later.

Some children can’t get the measles vaccine for medical reasons. Some children don’t get the measles vaccine for personal or religious reasons. If a case of measles occurs in school or an outbreak occurs in the community, children who do not meet school MMR vaccination requirements can’t go to school until the disease is under control.

The Potential for School Exclusions:

Although the majority of students in Island County have been vaccinated against measles, some students and staff have not been vaccinated. These students and staff are at high risk to contract and spread measles, placing others at risk. To protect all students and staff, and to prevent the spread of measles to the rest of the community, Island County Health Department would require exclusion from school should a student or staff member in our district contract the disease. As a reminder, the Health Officer for Island County has the authority to require such exclusion in order to protect the public (RCW 70.24.070, WAC 246-110-020). Students and staff born after 1957 who have not had the MMR vaccine would be excluded from the impacted school until they have been vaccinated, or until the 22nd day following the onset of rash from the last case of measles in a school.

MMR vaccine requirements across all grade levels are for 2 doses of MMR with the first dose given after the first birthday and must have 4 weeks at least between doses. Other rules apply that may affect if the dose is valid.

Acceptable documentation for immunizations is an immunization printout from a clinic or a trifold immunization record stamped by the provider giving the shots or documentation from WAIIS, the state database.  In case of uncertain documentation, a blood test (titer) can be obtained to prove immunity.

The measles vaccine is safe and effective. We recommend your whole family be vaccinated. Contact your healthcare provider or local pharmacy to check on availability.

For more information about measles or other vaccine-preventable diseases, visit or call Island County Public Health at 360-678-8281.

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