Doctors are being flooded with calls from concerned parents following a measles outbreak on Oahu.
The state confirmed a second case Tuesday. A toddler became infected after waiting in the same doctor’s office as the baby who contracted the disease from the Philippines and brought it to Hawaii earlier this month. Both kids also went to Wahiawa General Hospital when they were contagious.
One Pearl City pediatrician says his office has seen a recent bump in activity. “We’ve probably seen maybe a 10 to 20 percent increase in calls,” said Dr. Lance Taniguchi.
He says parents asking if their child has been immunized, when they should be and even if they should isolate their kids. “Just this morning, a mom asked, ‘With me living on this side of the island, do I keep my kid inside? Do I not go to playgrounds?’”
Dr. Taniguchi says there’s no need to pull children out of school or avoid group activities, but he does tell parents they should be aware of their surroundings after two related cases of measles on Oahu.
Both children were not vaccinated. In the first case, the baby was younger than a year old, which is when an infant can receive the vaccine, but health experts say more precautions could have been taken. “If you’re traveling with your baby before 12 months, you can get the baby immunized before you travel,” said Susan Ohlson, chief nursing officer at Wahiawa General Hospital. But, health experts stress, this would not count as the first vaccination. Parents would still need to stick to the immunization timeline to protect their child, between 12 and 15 months and again between four and six years old.
Doctors are using the recent measles cases as reminders that children should be vaccinated. Some pediatricians wont accept them, if they don’t.
“We only allow patients to come and be a part of our practice if they’re going to be vaccinated, whether it’s right on schedule or a little delayed,” Dr. Taniguchi said.
The cases are also sending a red flag to doctors to be on the lookout for the disease, which health experts say can be easily missed.
State epidemiologist Sarah Park hopes one day the state won’t have to worry about the measles. She envisions a day when everyone will be vaccinated.
“We wouldn’t have to expend so much resource, so much manpower, so much effort,” Park said. “We wouldn’t have to have people alarmed, worried about their kids’ health and for their own health.”