NJ 's Top Health Official Warns Dangers of Measles, Says Get Vaccinated

Apr 30, 2019

NJ Department of Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal
Credit Phil Gregory / WBGO

New Jersey’s top health official is warning of the dangers presented by measles outbreaks.  There have been fourteen cases confirmed in the state this year.

Twelve of those measles cases are linked to an outbreak in Monmouth and Ocean County communities, with two cases from international travel.  

“We are seeing measles cases cross state lines which is the main way that our outbreaks have started,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal on a call with health officials from other states.

The doctors were discussing efforts in their respective states to promote vaccination.  Elnahal says he would support policy to increase the number of people that receive vaccinations in New Jersey.  In New York City, the health department has mandated measles vaccines in certain parts of Brooklyn, with legal pushback from a group of residents.

“The only exemption that is supported by evidence and public health practice is the medical exemption,” Elnahal said.  “Allergies, immune system deficiencies, and other medical reasons not to take the vaccine are appropriate.  There’s no other public health reasons for avoiding the vaccinations.”

Measles symptoms include but are not limited to fever, rash, and upper respiratory issues. Elnahal says call your local healthcare provider if you believe you were exposed.

“And not simply show up to a clinic or an emergency room, given how contagious the illness.  In an average size room, 9 out of ten individuals in that room with an active confirmed case, would be exposed.”