Health officials in Spokane, Wash. issued a warning late Tuesday that has more than a few parents concerned: the health district has confirmed its first documented case of measles in more than two decades. The confirmed case is an adult. Officials said they were investigating how the unvaccinated person was exposed.
Just last week, officials in the Spokane Public School District announced that 3 percent of its student body had yet to submit proof of immunization or a certificate of exemption.
While nearly all states require children to receive recommended vaccines before attending school, some, such as Idaho, make it easier than others to get exemptions. All states grant exemptions to children for medical reasons, but Idaho also allows students to skip vaccines for philosophical objections.
In December 2011, Boise Weekly chronicled what we called "Idaho's epidemic of fear," particularly pointing to northern Idaho (not far from Spokane) where there are some of the highest non-vaccination rates in the state.
"This is stupid. There's absolutely no reason for these exemption rates," Dana Williams, head nurse for the Pend Oreille School District, told BW at the time. "We're going to end up with something bad happening here. People don't realize that a child can die from a bad case of chicken pox or the mumps."