Because of a recent outbreak of measles at California Disney theme parks where five employees were infected, students who have no proof of having the measles vaccination are not being allowed in to both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
At this time, three of the employees have recovered completely and already gone back to work while the other two are still required to be off, this according to the chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Dr. Pamela Hymel. When the outbreak was first recognized on January 7, park employees were given immunity tests but also offered vaccinations. In addition, anyone suspected of being infected with the measles virus was immediately sent home on paid leave.
Unfortunately, with the outbreak growing, officials with the Orange County Health Department have ordered roughly 24 students who have no proof of getting vaccinated against the virus to stay away from the Disney properties.
According to officials, the current measles outbreak is the worst seen in California for more than 15 years. Throughout California, three additional states, and even Mexico, a total of 54 people have been confirmed to have measles.
At Huntington Beach High School, health officials learned of an infected student who had come to class. Immediately, students were ordered out of class. The health department also stated that if measles are detected in any other schools, the same action will be taken.
In a statement from Orange County public health officer, Dr. Eric Handler, it was confirmed that if there is a case of the measles found in a school, any children not immunized will be mandated to remain home for 21 days. With this, the spread of the disease can be prevented.
What makes the measles outbreak in Orange County California unique but also challenging is that there is a number of upper scale communities where parents have chosen not to have their children fully vaccinated based on religious or personal beliefs. However, when 8% or more choose not to receive immunization to prevent measles and other diseases from spreading, there is a significant problem.
For example, with the school district in Huntington Beach City, two out of seven elementary classes would go beyond that number. At S.A. Moffett Elementary school, 10% of students did not receive vaccinations because of personal beliefs while numbers were at 11% for Huntington Seacliff Elementary school.
Since 2002, the number of children being vaccinated against the measles virus has declined annually. Even though there is strong scientific proof the shots are safe and effective, many people are still extremely suspicious. The way that California is handling the recent measles outbreak is being carefully monitored by other states.
Dr. James Cherry, pediatric infectious diseases research professor with UCLA said that unless something is done about the 10% of the population not being vaccinated and therefore susceptible, this coming winter and spring are going to be tough.
In the case of Disneyland, measles started to spread one week after Christmas. Large theme parks such as this are perfect incubators because people come from all over the world to enjoy the rides and shows. Many visitors come from Asia and Europe where measles remains a major problem.