A baseball coach at Santa Monica High School has been diagnosed with measles.
In a letter sent to parents on Jan. 23, Samohi Principal Eva Mayoral said the school received confirmation that a freshman baseball coach had measlesfromTheDepartmentofPublicHealth. Officials told the school there is only a small possibility that students could have been exposed and that no further action was needed.
“Wehavereviewedimmunizationrecordsforallbaseballplayersandaccordingtoourrecords,allhavebeenimmunizedagainstthispreventabledisease,” said the letter.
In a separate communication released Jan. 22, the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District encouraged parents to vaccinate their children.
“SMMUSD has students in the district who are “immune deficient” due to a variety of medical conditions. Exposure to unimmunized children poses a risk to these students whose immune systems are unable to protect them. The more district and community members who are immunized, the safer the environment for these fragile students. Infants too young to be immunized and the elderly in the community are also at high risk by unimmunized students,” said the statement.
Children entering kindergarten are required to be vaccinated for polio, chicken pox, measles/mumps/rubella, hepatitis B, and tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (whooping cough). Students entering seventh grade are required to have a booster shot of the Tdap (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis) vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends middle- and high-school-age children receive a vaccination to prevent catching meningococcal meningitis, a disease that’s more common among older children. In addition, to prevent certain types of cancer, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is recommended by the CDC for preteen boys and girls.
The measles outbreak began in Orange County at the Disneyland theme parks. The disease has continued to spread throughout California, into other states and possibly into Mexico with 80 confirmed cases and more expected.
Measles is highly contagious and if left untreated can be deadly. Vaccines are readily available for measles, and other once common diseases, but vaccine rates in Santa Monica are below average, leaving some residents at risk for contracting, and then spreading, diseases.
SMMUSD said it has plans in place to handle outbreaks of this type.
“The district would like to remind families that during an outbreak of a preventable disease such as measles, unimmunized students (including those who have not provided documentation of immunization) may be excluded from school for the length of the incubation period, in some cases up to 21 days, according to Lora Morn, RN, MSN, SMMUSD coordinating nurse. The district has cooperated with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in the past and when they have recommended that students be excluded, the district has excluded,” the district said in it’s letter to parents.
The district said free vaccines are available at the Westside Family Clinic at 1711 Ocean Park Blvd in Santa Monica for children under 18 years old on the first Saturday of each month from 12-2 p.m. No appointment is necessary.