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vaccines

A Clallam County woman was exposed to measles at a health clinic. She died three months ago at the University of Washington Medical Center, where she was transferred after being treated in Clallam County.
University of Washington Medical Center

A Clallam County woman died of a measles infection three months ago, health officials said on Thursday, making her the first person to die of measles in Washington state in 25 years.

She was the first person to die in the U.S. in 12 years.

health flu shot
Flickr Photo/Government of Alberta (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds speaks with Washington state Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, about her bill which would have stopped parents from opting out of vaccinating their kids for personal reasons and why it failed.

Parents, take note! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccine committee has expanded its recommendation for immunization against meningitis B, a rare but potentially deadly strain of meningitis.

The committee's revised guidance, issued late last week, broadens the group of young people that the CDC thinks should consider getting the shot, and increases the likelihood that health insurance policies will pay for the injection.

California is on the brink of passing a law that would require nearly all children to be vaccinated in order to attend school. The bill has cleared most major hurdles, but public health officials have grappled with a strong, vocal opposition along the way.

There's actually a long history to the anti-vaccination movement.

Imagine that you're a judge, and you're asked to decide the case brought by Mary and Dave Wildman.

Back in 1997, Mary took the couple's 1-year-old son, Nicholas, to the doctor for the combination vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella. Right after the MMR shot, Mary says, Nicholas started crying uncontrollably.

"This was unbelievable screaming," she says.

Mary and her mom started driving Nicholas back to their home in Evans City, Pa.

Nurses Fatima Guillen, left, and Fran Wendt, right, give Kimberly Magdeleno, 4, a Tdap whooping cough booster shot.
AP File Photo/Ted S. Warren

Doctors on tight schedules often have a hard time answering questions about vaccines.

It’s especially challenging when the questions are not straightforward, says Group Health researcher Nora Henrikson.

California's state Senate has passed a bill to eliminate "personal belief exemptions" that currently allow parents to opt out of having their school-age children vaccinated.

SB 277, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Richard Pan of Sacramento and Ben Allen of Santa Monica, passed 25 to 10 and now advances to the Assembly.

Six infants may have been exposed to the measles in a recent outbreak in the Spokane area, and 25 people are under quarantine.

Nurses Fatima Guillen, left, and Fran Wendt, right, give Kimberly Magdeleno, 4, a Tdap whooping cough booster shot.
AP File Photo/Ted S. Warren

Washington state’s whooping cough outbreak continues to grow. So far this year, there have  been 397 confirmed cases, compared with 85 last year.

Whooping cough is cyclical; it peaks every 3 to 4 years.

In order to improve the quality of health care and reduce its costs, researchers need to know what works and what doesn't. One powerful way to do that is through a system of "registries," in which doctors and hospitals compile and share their results. But even in this era of big data, remarkably few medical registries exist.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

Australia has announced plans to halt welfare payments and child care rebates to families that refuse to have their children vaccinated — an aggressive move aimed at clamping down on a rising number of parents who opt out of immunizations.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sunday that the government was closing a loophole and would stop payments of up to $11,500 per child (15,000 Australian dollars) for parents who don't get their kids immunized by claiming to be "conscientious objectors."

File photo of a flu shot.
Flickr Photo/Fort Meade (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1jxhkty

Ross Reynolds talks with Washington State Department of Health educator Katie Wolt about who should get vaccinated for measles.

Oregon and Washington lawmakers flinched within hours of each other Wednesday when it came to toughening mandatory vaccination requirements for schoolchildren.

Northwest lawmakers are considering whether to make it harder for parents to opt out of immunizing their children.

Monica Campbell

On a recent afternoon at Benito Juárez Elementary School in Mexico City, pop music blared from speakers and uniformed kids ran around. Eventually, one by one, they each swallowed precisely two drops of clear liquid.

Welcome to Mexico’s vaccination day.

While the debate over vaccines continues in pockets of the United States — heated up by the recent measles outbreak linked to Disneyland — the take on vaccines is quite different in Mexico.

A highly contagious disease was sweeping across the United States. Thousands of children were sick and some were dying. In the midst of this outbreak, health officials did something that experts say had never been done before and hasn't been done since: They forced parents to vaccinate their children.

It sounds like something that would have happened 100 years ago. But this was 1991 — and the disease was measles.

Legislative moves to limit school immunization exemptions are drawing vocal opposition from some parents. Opponents of mandatory vaccination crowded a public hearing at the state capitol in Olympia Tuesday, and the scene could repeat itself in Salem Wednesday.

health flu shot
Flickr Photo/Government of Alberta (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The same question goes for non-vaccinating parents: What’s the right strategy? Also: yet another questionable fatal police shooting, this time in our state. And what will politics be like without comedic news anchors John Stewart and Stephen Colbert? Finally, Seattle has a new earthquake alert, what will you do with your five seconds?

Bill Radke analyzes the week’s news with Luke Burbank, Joni Balter and Knute Berger.

Note to our podcasters: The team also discussed the possible resignation of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. He formally announced his resignation after the show aired. 

File photo of a flu shot.
Flickr Photo/Fort Meade (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1jxhkty

Ross Reynolds talks with Dr. Douglas Diekema about why some parents don't vaccinate their children. Diekema is professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and an emergency room physician at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Some Northwest lawmakers want to make it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.

As California's measles outbreak continues to spread beyond state borders, many doctors nationwide are grappling with how best to convince parents to have their children vaccinated. Inviting a collaborative conversation doesn't work all that well, many are finding. Recent research suggests that being more matter-of-fact can work a lot better.

Pediatrician Eric Ball, who practices in southern California, says, in his experience, the families skeptical of vaccines can be divided into two types.

Heather Weinert Owain Weinert cancer vaccines
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Owain Weinert, at age 8, hadn’t been eating breakfast and was sleeping 12 to 14 hours a night. For months, mysterious fevers came and went.

His mother took him to the pediatrician, who in turn sent them to a lab for a blood test. They then went to lunch, which Owain didn’t eat.

File photo of a flu shot.
Flickr Photo/Fort Meade (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1jxhkty

Ross Reynolds talks to Washington state Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, about her new bill that would take away the option to opt out of vaccinations for "personal beliefs."

State lawmakers in California introduced legislation Wednesday that would require children to be fully vaccinated before going to school, a response to a measles outbreak that started in Southern California and has reached 107 cases in 14 states.

Dr. Bob Sears, a pediatrician in Capistrano Beach, Calif., says that he strongly believes in the protective power of vaccines to save lives. But he's also well-known in Southern California as a doctor who won't pressure parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, or who refuse some vaccines, or who want to stray from the recommended schedule of vaccinations.

"They all come to me because, I guess, I'm more respectful of their decisions, more willing to listen to them," Sears says, "[and to] discuss pros and cons and acknowledge that there are some side effects to vaccines."

The ongoing measles outbreak linked to Disneyland has led to some harsh comments about parents who don't vaccinate their kids. But Juniper Russo, a writer in Chattanooga, Tenn., says she understands those parents because she used to be one of them.

"I know what it's like to be scared and just want to protect your children, and make the wrong decisions," Russo says.

After a few cases here and there, measles is making a big push back into the national consciousness.

An outbreak linked to visitors to the Disneyland Resort Theme Parks in Orange County, Calif., has sickened 67 people in California and six other states according to the latest count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Carl Krawitt has watched his son, Rhett, now 6, fight leukemia for the past 4 1/2 years. For more than three of those years, Rhett has undergone round after round of chemotherapy. Last year he finished chemotherapy, and doctors say he is in remission.

Now, there's a new threat, one that the family should not have to worry about: measles.

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Paul Throne of the Washington State Department of Health about why some groups of Washingtonians decline to vaccinate against measles and what that means for the rest of the state.

It all started with milkmaids.

Edward Jenner, an 18th-century English country doctor, noticed that they seemed to be immune to smallpox.

And that was a time when smallpox was a truly terrifying disease. Each year, it killed hundreds of thousands of Europeans. It made people terribly sick. Its oozing blisters scarred many of its victims for life. And there was no cure.

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