Measles immunization coverage rates increase in the Silver State
RENO — Immunize Nevada shared an important statistic from the Nevada State Division of Public and Behavioral Health: According to data from Nevada WebIZ, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and MMR-V (measles, mumps, rubella, varicella) vaccination coverage rates jumped 23 percent in the first quarter of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014.
Officials attribute the increase, at least in part, to the high-profile measles outbreak that was linked to Disneyland, along with reported cases in Nevada and many other states between December 28, 2014, through April 24 of this year.
“We were lucky that the number of cases were as low as they were in Nevada, as the measles virus is highly contagious,” said Immunize Nevada Executive Director Heidi Parker. “The only silver lining from this measles outbreak is that it allowed us to have conversations about how dangerous vaccine-preventable diseases are and how important vaccination is for our entire community.”
Given Nevada’s sheer proximity to California, epicenter of the “Disneyland Outbreak,” it should come as no surprise that measles is a widespread concern in our state. Measles is a serious disease that can cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and even death.
All told, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed nine (9) cases of measles in Nevada. But the importance of protection against the disease inspired health officials to increase communications initiatives during the outbreak, in an effort to increase awareness of concepts surrounding immunization and the disease.
“The public was concerned, and as a result, we immediately mobilized to provide timely, science-based information about measles,” said Parker. “We used both traditional, web-based and social media channels.”
Parker points to data from Google analytics and Facebook, citing an increase inn organic (non-paid) Facebook page “likes” of 4,750 percent week over week during one particularly news-filled week during the outbreak. That week, their Facebook page reach increased 700 percent.
Google analytic data showed similar results, with an increase of 234 percent in visits to the http://www.immunizenevada.org website and a 229 percent increase in unique visitors.
“People were eager for solid, well researched information,” Parker said. “We were able to talk about concepts like herd immunity, how immunization records can be accessed through the Nevada WebIZ public portal, and how to have conversations about vaccination and measles-specific signs and symptoms.”
She added, “We believe the communications efforts undertaken by the Immunize Nevada team and its partner organizations throughout the state helped elevate the vaccination rate and more Nevadans are now protected from this potentially deadly disease.”
“It’s sad that it takes an outbreak to inspire the dialogue, but I definitely think more people are aware of facts versus myths now and more proactive about immunization,” she said. “And that’s a good thing.”
As a reminder, Nevadans can check immunization status online at izrecord.nv.gov, or by calling the local Health Department or their healthcare provider.
For information about measles, visit http://www.immunizenevada.org/measles.
About Immunize Nevada
Immunize Nevada advocates for and educates about the benefits of vaccines and fosters statewide collaboration to achieve Nevada’s health priorities. Immunize Nevada’s vision is for healthy communities across Nevada being protected from vaccine-preventable disease. For more information, visit ImmunizeNevada.org.