Measles Outbreak Brings U.S. Surgeon General to Washington
The measles outbreak has U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H.,
visiting Washington state to get a better understanding of the problem here.
“I appreciate what you do each and every day,” Adams said to staff at Seattle’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic on Thursday.
“Did you gain any insight on what’s causing so many parents there to opt out?” KIRO7’s Deedee Sun asked Adams.
“It’s important to understand 91 percent of people in this country actually believe in vaccinations,” Adams said.
He said among the other 9 percent, many people are simply hesitant about vaccines and want their questions answered in a respectful and culturally sensitive manner. Some are single parents who have trouble finding the transportation or time to get their kids vaccinated.
“Most of these outbreaks are occurring in small pockets, but each of these pockets is unique,” Adams said. “Here we got an outbreak largely among people of eastern European descent. Everyone has different reasons,” he said.
Health officials also mentioned bills the Washington State Legislature is considering, which could eliminate personal exemptions.
“Do you have a stance on getting rid of personal exemptions or philosophical exemptions?” Sun asked Adams.
“The science tells us the states who have more than medical exemptions available, have lower vaccination rates and are at higher risk for vaccine-preventable outbreaks. So I go around and try to help folks understand, that when you provide these additional exemptions, you’re putting yourself at risk,” Adams said.
“We have to make it easier for people to get vaccinate than for them to get exemptions. And I hope that is a sentiment that is taken into account when folks are discussing these complicated issues,” Adams said.