Shortly after Clark County, Washington was placed in a state of emergency the demand for measles vaccines shot up by almost 500 percent as previous anti-vaxxers had a change of heart. As of this writing, the area has over 50 confirmed and 11 suspected cases, most of which involve children whose parents had opted not to get vaccinations.

Compared to January 2018, when the orders for two types of measles vaccines (MMR and MMR-V) was at 530 units, the demand in January 2019 logged 3,150 units. This is in Clark County alone. According to Sea Mar Community Health Center infection control nurse Virginia Ramos, an outbreak usually pushes people to suddenly want to obtain vaccines, even if they had passionately refused it in the past. 

The state health department had been concerned about the area’s potential to succumb to an outbreak, especially as only 76.5 percent of children in the kindergarten level had complete vaccinations. All around Washington, the demand for vaccines reportedly rose 30 percent, from 12,140 doses last year to 15,780 doses.

Clark County director of public health Dr. Alan Melnick spoke to NPR and said that a person with measles will certainly infect 90 percent of those around him or her that are susceptible, such as those without vaccinations. He mentioned that all health professionals are working 24/7, with some nurses even covering 12-days-straight shifts just to help address the epidemic. He also urged parents of unvaccinated children to protect their kids and their families, adding that the vaccine is effective, inexpensive and totally safe. 

Washington is one of the three states that have declared a measles outbreak to date, the other two being New York state and New York City. Several cases have also been reported in Colorado, Illinois, California, Texas, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut and Oregon. The CDC says most of the outbreaks are linked with travelers who brought the disease back from Ukraine and Israel, where major outbreaks are currently happening.