Valley doctor worries people are in denial about measles vaccine

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The new measles numbers coming in Monday show 102 cases in 14 states. California is dealing with the most cases and they've all been traced back to exposure at Disneyland in December.
 
Doctors call measles one of the most easily transmitted viruses. Yet, the vaccine is 95 percent effective. This is a controversial subject for some people, but doctors who look at the science every day say it really shouldn't be.
 
"We comb through our charts to see who's due," Dr. Katie Brite said. "Put calls out to try and get patients in."
 
Doctors at Wesley Health Center serve a poor section of South Phoenix, taking care of basic needs and that means vaccinating people against diseases.
 
"Cost should not be a factor," Brite said. "Community health centers would never turn anyone away for inability to pay."
 
Brite is a big believer in educating people about vaccinations and how they keep everyone healthy through what's called "herd immunity." She says the current measles outbreak is an example of what can happen when too few people receive the recommended shots.
 
"The diseases, they are not gone," she said. "They are not eradicated. They're there. I always describe them as the sneaky villains just waiting to wreak havoc."
 
The Council on Foreign Relations has an interesting map on its website, www.cfr.org. Colored dots show outbreaks of disease or large-scale attacks. You hardly see any dots in South America, but the United States is spattered with green and brown dots. They show instances of mostly measles and whooping cough in recent years.  
 
Those diseases have made a comeback because some parents don't want their children vaccinated. Maybe it's religious beliefs, distrust of the medical profession or that one study connecting vaccines to autism.
 
"The researcher who had originally presented the information has admitted to falsifying the information and lost his medical license," Brite explained with a little frustration.
 
Here are some other myths about vaccines: receiving too many weakens the immune system; you're safe if everyone else is vaccinated; and doctors make money off them.
 
It is true, however, that vaccines can have side effects, but doctors say they are rare and usually minor in healthy children.
 
"I think the 'what ifs' if you don't vaccinate outweigh the potential and very rare side effects of vaccinating," Brite explained.
 
Adults can also get the vaccine if they don't think they've had it. The cost for uninsured is about $100, but if you have any kind of insurance, it's covered under the Affordable Care Act.
 
There are community health clinics around Arizona just like Wesley.

Find clinics in Maricopa County at www.maricopa.gov.
 
If you have other questions, the CDC answers most of them at www.cdc.gov/measles/vaccination.html.