Measles is a rare contagious disease in the United States. Symptoms consist of, but are not limited to fever, a skin rash, sore throat and runny nose.
Seven cases of measles have been reported around the LA County.
Hundreds of students at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) may have been exposed to measles, and while no cases of the measles have been reported at Los Angeles Community College District campuses including Pierce, there’s potential for the disease to spread to other campuses.
According to Director of the Health Center Beth Benne, cases of measles are caused because people are not properly immunized.
“We can avoid this if everybody got vaccinated,” Benne said.
Benne believes that the students could have been exposed to measles at UCLA and CSULA due to students not getting vaccinated and just coming from international travelling.
“Measles is much more prevalent in other countries and so when people travel, they can bring it back,” Benne said. “We have a significant number of people born and raised in United States who did not receive vaccines because it was their parents’ choice.”
Benne said she is frustrated that there’s a growing number of people who have chosen not to be vaccinated.
Benne said that it’s an individual’s choice whether or not to be vaccinated.
“They better have a good reason to not be vaccinated,” Benne said.
Benne said we are lucky that the measles hasn’t spread on Pierce College’s campus.
“I have been following the measles all along and it’s something that is critical,” Benne said.
Measles can be prevented by getting vaccinated with the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine.
According to Benne, the Health Center offers the vaccine at a price of $70, but Benne warns it’s a live vaccine and if students are immunocompromised, they should not get the vaccine.
“If their immune system is not healthy, if they are ill, or if they have a fever, they should not get the vaccine,” Benne said.
Benne said at worst, the side effect can be a low-grade fever.
Benne also said the Student Health Center offers a measles antibodies test for $9 that checks if students have enough antibodies to be immune to measles.
She said she will be sending out notifications to students, staff and faculty about their measles status.
“If a person with measles were to just walk in the health care waiting room the entire building would have to be shut down for two hours,” Benne said.
Benne said there’s no requirement to show proof of vaccination at all community colleges throughout California.
Interim President Larry Buckley said although there have been no reported cases of measles, the campus is prepared for the worst.
“The Health Center is prepared and the whole district is prepared if something more dramatic would happen,” Buckley said.
Pierce student Brandon Moghanian says community colleges should require students to be vaccinated.
“When it comes to diseases and especially at schools you don’t want to catch it,” said Moghanian.
Pierce student Paul Benz said people should get vaccinated because he doesn’t want to get the measles.
“It’s kind of scary if we got the measles in a highly populated college,” said Benz.