Students, faculty notified of measles exposure plan

Henry Tantum

Marin public school officials were recently notified that if a student from their respective school contracts the measles virus, students and staff who cannot demonstrate immunity will be prohibited from attending school for up to 21 days.

In a series of emails received by Redwood parents and faculty, Marin County Public Health Officer Matt Willis outlined the criteria necessary to be considered immune and explained Marin’s measles exposure plan.

To be considered immune, students and staff must have proof of at least one dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, have a laboratory confirmation of immunity to measles, or be born before 1957.

The email was received by parents on Jan. 29 and by faculty on Feb. 11.

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There have been 131 confirmed cases of measles in California during the current outbreak that began in December, including two in Marin County, according to the California Department of Public Health.

“If you are not immune, you should be vaccinated as soon as possible so you will have protection and avoid future exclusion from work,” Willis wrote.

According to Wanda Milford, Redwood’s Health Specialist, there are currently 33 unvaccinated students at Redwood. Milford said that it is important for both students and staff to be vaccinated against the virus.

“It spreads so quickly,” Milford said. “If someone walks into a room with an active case and all they do is just turn around and walk out, for a couple of hours you could catch measles by just walking in and out of the room.”

One dose of the MMR vaccine is 93 percent effective in preventing the measles virus, while two doses of the vaccine are 99 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People born before 1957 are considered immune to measles because of the likelihood that they have previously contracted the virus before a vaccine was created.

A person does not become immune to measles until two weeks after receiving the vaccine, according to Willis’ email.

According to Willis, the purpose of excluding unvaccinated students from school is to protect them from the virus and limit the spread of measles.

Milford believes that isolating students and staff who are not immune to the virus will be an effective way to eradicate measles in Marin schools.

“It’s so contagious. We just want anyone with an active case to go away,” Milford said.