The Senate Health Committee was briefed Wednesday on the measles epidemic that is gripping the nation and Alabama’s measles status.
“We are hearing more and more measles discussion in our state,” said Health Committee Chairman Jim McClendon, R-Springville. “We asked Dr. (Scott) Harris to update the committee on this.”
Harris is the Alabama public health officer.
“There are over 700 cases nationwide,” Harris said. “This is the biggest outbreak since before 2000 when the U.S. declared measles free status. It is not measles free now. There are two big clusters in Washington State and New York. In New York, there are two big clusters. One in New York City and the other elsewhere in New York state.”
Harris said 22 states have confirmed measles cases. There have not been any in Alabama. We have not had a case in several years.
We did have several kids in St. Clair County that were tested because measles was suspected, Harris said, but those tested negative.
Harris said the most important thing people can do to protect their kids is to get them vaccinated.
Harris said more parents have not vaccinated their kids because of fears of the vaccines.
“There is not a link with autism (and the vaccine),” Harris said. “That is the ultimate fake news story. There are a few persons with immune system problems that cannot handle the vaccine.”
“Do you have any data on where this has been coming from: immigrants or unvaccinated Americans?” asked State Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Sheffield.
Stutts is a prominent North Alabama physician.
“A little bit of both,” Harris said. “They have tested the strains, and it is coming from Ukraine and Israel.”
“So it is unvaccinated U.S. citizens that brought it back,” Stutts said.
McClendon thanked Harris for briefing the committee and said it was very reassuring that Alabama does not have cases of measles.
McClendon represents St. Clair County, where there was a measles scare this week.
UPDATE – While this was accurate when this went to press, since then the Alabama Department of Public Health has announced that a child of less than one years of age in St. Clair County has tested positive for measles. Alabama is the 23rd state in the country with a positive measles diagnosis. The child was not in Daycare so has had limited contact with other children,