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Mumps immunization rates jump among unvaccinated, under vaccinated Tacoma students

February 17, 2017

Parents get children immunized to keep kids in class

Schools that had mumps cases have only a few students unvaccinated or under vaccinated against the virus and had to miss class. For best protection and to attend school, students must be up to date on immunizations.

TACOMA, Wash. – Congratulations, Tacoma parents! You took action to protect your children at Tacoma Public Schools who were unvaccinated and under vaccinated against mumps to keep them in school. Since Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported the district’s first mumps case in late January, most parents of unvaccinated or under vaccinated students have chosen to vaccinate their children.

According to Tacoma Public Schools, 71% of previously unvaccinated and under vaccinated students at Jason Lee Middle School are now up to date with their measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations. That figure is 85% for Stadium High School students in the same category. These students faced school exclusion if they did not get the required vaccinations.

“We are happy parents took this important step to offer their children the best protection against mumps,” said Nigel Turner, communicable disease division director at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “When children get vaccinated, they help to decrease the level of disease in our community,” Turner said.

The district has had mumps cases at three schools as of today:

School

Number of Cases

Stadium High

4

Jason Lee Middle

2

McCarver Elementary

1

Because of two new mumps cases at Stadium High, the Health Department extended the exclusion period for the students with one dose or no doses of the MMR vaccine to March 10.

The Health Department received information about the McCarver Elementary mumps case on Feb. 16 after the student was no longer ill. Because the Health Department has not identified any other cases at McCarver, the Department is not recommending school exclusions. In all cases, the students contracted mumps away from school. Because mumps is highly contagious among people who are in close contact for prolonged periods, it can spread easily and quickly in a school setting.

The MMR vaccine is highly effective to prevent the virus and reduce outbreaks. Free immunizations are also available during most weekdays at the South Hill Mall. For a list of other dates and times and other immunization options visit www.tpchd.org/immunizations.

What is mumps?

Mumps is a highly contagious viral illness. An infected person can spread it through face-to-face contact by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. Mumps can also spread when people share cups and eating utensils. Mumps is a condition that health providers must report to the local health department when a probable or diagnosed case occurs.

What are the symptoms?

Mumps is best known for causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw, the result of swollen salivary glands. Other symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle Aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of Appetite

Up to 10% of teen boys and men can experience swelling of the testicles. Meningitis and encephalitis are rare but serious complications of mumps.

How can you prevent mumps?

Immunization is the most effective way to prevent mumps. Everyone should make sure they are up to date on their MMR vaccine. Children must have two doses of the MMR vaccine to attend school. Other ways to protect yourself:

  • Avoid contact with anyone infected with mumps.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Don’t share cups and eating utensils.

Who is more likely to get mumps?

  • Babies less than one year old.
  • Children older than one who have not received at least one dose of the MMR.
  • Adults born in or after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or have not had mumps before.

Recent mumps cases in the region started with an outbreak in south King County. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department identified the first Pierce County probable mumps cases Dec. 9. As of Feb. 17, the Health Department has received reports of 52 mumps cases. School districts affected include Tacoma, Fife, and Puyallup. Get more information about mumps, including updated case counts at www.tpchd.org/mumps

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. We are one of only 163 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

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