Measles

Seth Wenig / AP Images

The World Health Organization gave the U.S. Measles elimination status in 2000, but the country is now on the brink of losing it. Idaho Matters talks to people representing different viewpoints on this issue, with Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Christine Hahn of Idaho Department Health and Welfare, Dr. Alicia Lachiondo of St. Luke's and Leslie Manokian of Health Freedom Idaho.

Cynthia Goldsmith / AP Photo/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Starting Wednesday, the United States could lose its measles elimination status. What does that mean for the country and for Idaho?


Jim Goodson, M.P.H./Wikimedia

Measles outbreaks are popping up all over the country and they could have all been avoided with childhood vaccines. Idaho Matters looks at why this is happening with St. Luke's pediatrician Dr. Alicia Lachiondo.

On The Thursday, May 9, 2019 Edition Of Idaho Matters

May 8, 2019

  • Idaho ranks second in the nation for child drownings.
  • Protecting yourself and kids from measles outbreak.
  • AirBnb is squeezing Boise's rental market.
  • Robert Hayashi will discuss the Asian civil rights movement for Boise's Fettuccine Forum.

This story was updated May 3, 2019 at 3:40 p.m.

Measles cases have reached a 19-year high in the U.S., but a bill in Colorado aimed at improving childhood vaccination rates didn’t succeed. It didn’t really fail, either. It just got mired in super-long hearings, pushback from the governor and, ultimately, a legislative schedule that ran out of time before the bill could reach the Senate.

“I’m still today trying to figure out exactly what happened,” says Rep. Kyle Mullica, who sponsored the bill.

There's currently another measles outbreak, this time in the Pacific Northwest. In the Mountain West, states are below the national average for measles vaccination, which could also put us at risk.

ERIC RISBERG / AP

measles outbreak in Eastern Washington highlights the importance of childhood immunizations. Idaho Matters looks at the threat to Western Idahoans and what people can do to protect themselves and their children from measles.

On The Tuesday, February 5, 2019 Edition Of Idaho Matters

Feb 4, 2019

  • The fight for Medicaid expansion in Idaho continues.
  • St. Al's and Team UpCycle Boise bring attention to cycling and heart health.
  • A Washington measles outbreak has Idahoans concerned about unvaccinated kids.
  • A multi-genre art piece de-mystifies menstruation.

tschoppi / Flickr

Over 35 cases of measles have been confirmed in Washington, and cases are appearing in Oregon too. With the highly contagious virus on the state’s doorstep, Idaho authorities are bracing for it to appear here.


Eric Risberg / AP

Public health officials scrambling to contain a measles outbreak in the U.S. Northwest warned people to vaccinate their children Monday and worried that it could take months to contain the highly contagious viral illness due to a lower-than-normal vaccination rate at the epicenter of the crisis.

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that measles cases around the world increased by 31 percent from 2016 to 2017.

While the U.S. saw an increase of almost 40 percent during that period, only two states in the Mountain West region reported measles cases. Colorado had one each year, and Utah had no cases in 2016 and three the following year.

Flickr Creative Commons

A recent report indicated eight of the 10 least-immunized counties in the country are in Idaho.

Back in the 1960s, the U.S. started vaccinating kids for measles. As expected, children stopped getting measles.

But something else happened.

Childhood deaths from all infectious diseases plummeted. Even deaths from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea were cut by half.

Scientists saw the same phenomenon when the vaccine came to England and parts of Europe. And they see it today when developing countries introduce the vaccine.

Six infants may have been exposed to the measles in a recent outbreak in the Spokane area, and 25 people are under quarantine.

Legislative moves to limit school immunization exemptions are drawing vocal opposition from some parents. Opponents of mandatory vaccination crowded a public hearing at the state capitol in Olympia Tuesday, and the scene could repeat itself in Salem Wednesday.

Kevin Richert / Idaho Education News

Mississippi has the nation’s highest kindergarten vaccination rate. Idaho’s rate is among the nation’s lowest.

What separates these two states — so often neighbors in national demographic rankings?

The answer can be found in the states’ laws. Mississippi essentially requires all parents to immunize their children before kindergarten. In Idaho, parents can use three different types of waivers to get out of immunizing their children. And Idaho schools have no recourse but to accept the paperwork and enroll these students.

Some Northwest lawmakers want to make it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.

Lance McCord / Flickr Creative Commons

The Centers for Disease Control says a measles outbreak that spread from California's Disneyland has now reached 14 states and infected 102 people. No cases have been confirmed in Idaho, but many neighboring states are on the list including Utah, Washington and Oregon.

"We worry that it’s only a matter of time before we do see measles cases in Idaho," says Dr. Christine Hahn, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's medical director for the division of public health.

Public health officials say recent measles cases in the Northwest highlight the need to be vaccinated against the infection.