CHICAGO — As New York declares a public health emergency over a measles outbreak, there is a push to stop the illness from spreading in Illinois.
Medical professionals at Advocate, NorthShore University Health Systems and Lurie Children’s Hospital said they plan to send letters to parents of children who aren’t vaccinated against the measles, The Chicago Tribune reports.
According to the Tribune:
Lurie is sending the letters to families of its primary care patients 16 months and older who haven’t had a first dose of the vaccine and 7 years old and older who haven’t received a second dose. Typically, children receive vaccinations for the measles between 12 and 15 months of age and then again between the ages of 4 and 6.
Advocate and NorthShore are also sending the letters to families with children under 18 who haven’t had both doses. The systems, which partner to provide pediatric care, will also allow parents who had vaccinations scheduled for future appointments to get them earlier, said Dr. Frank Belmonte, chief medical officer at Advocate Children’s Hospital.
"We are identifying any child who lacks the proper vaccination. We are notifying those parents with a mailing to their home, to say we want them to come in or call the office to make sure their children are sufficiently protected from the measles virus," Belmonte said.
Symptoms of measles include high fever, cough runny nose red watery eyes and in extreme cases can lead to encephalitis and death.
Currently there are 500 confirmed measles cases in 19 states, seven in Illinois including one confirmed case in Cook County. Some doctors call it an epidemic.
Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency in the ongoing measles outbreak affecting the Orthodox Jewish community and ordered mandatory vaccinations in several neighborhoods.