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Iowa Vaccination Exemptions and the Risk of a Measles Outbreak

Posted by Joelle Stolte, PhD on Feb 7, 2019 4:30:19 PM

According to the Centers for Disease Control (2019) Measles, (also known as rubeola) is a highly communicable viral disease characterized by fever, cough, inflammation of the mucus membranes and a maculopapular (red raised bump skin rash). It usually occurs in people who have not had the disease before or who have not had the vaccine.  Prior to the vaccine becoming available in 1963, nearly all children contracted measles, with hundreds dying from the disease and more than 3 million people a year becoming infected. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (2019) the best way to prevent the disease is by getting the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all children aged 12 months and 4 years of age get the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR). Iowa state Laws require a Certificate of Immunization, or a Provisional Certificate of Immunization to be provided to licensed child care centers and schools by the first day of attendance.

In Iowa, as with many states across the country however, individuals have a legal right to file an Exemption of Immunization. There are three types of exemptions that individuals can request; 1) philosophical, 2) medical and or a 3) religious exemption, which vary across the country and is dependent on state legislature (see map).  Exemptions in the state of Iowa include a Medical and Religious Exemption. As anti-vaccination activists continue to advocate against the unsubstantiated risk of vaccines in states where there are more exemption options, public health experts claim the movement has helped decrease childhood immunizations, and placed populations at risk.  

According to Nola Aigner, Public Information Officer for Polk County Health Department, since the recent outbreak of Measles in Washington, Public Health professionals continue to monitor what is happening in our state of Iowa. Reports to date, show there are no confirmed cases in the state of Iowa nor in Polk County.  Public Health experts emphasize the importance of education when making decisions to decline vaccines to ensure overall public health.

To learn more about Mercy College of Health Sciences degrees in Public Health, click here.
Map-of-US-measles-vaccine-exemptionNational Vaccine Information Center (2019) retrieved from nvic.org/Vaccine-Laws/state-vaccine-requirements.aspx

About Joelle Stolte, PhD

Joelle Stolte, PhD, is the Program Chair and Assistant Professor in Public Health at Mercy College of Health Sciences. Prior to coming to Mercy College of Health Science, Dr. Stolte worked for both state and local public health (Iowa Department of Public Health and the Polk County Health Dept.). While working full-time in Public Health, Dr. Stolte also taught as adjunct faculty at Des Moines University, and Walden University for their Masters of Public Health and Health Care Administration programs.