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Ongoing Spokane mumps outbreak prompts new vaccination clinic

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 6, 2017

Tony Chavez, 7, gets a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination from WSU College of Pharmacy student James Kent, right, and encouragement from his mother, Kelly Thomas, left, in this January file photo. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Tony Chavez, 7, gets a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination from WSU College of Pharmacy student James Kent, right, and encouragement from his mother, Kelly Thomas, left, in this January file photo. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Health officials have confirmed 152 mumps cases in Spokane County, prompting another free vaccination clinic.

Free measles, mumps and rubella vaccines will be available Wednesday at the Salvation Army, 223 E. Nora Ave., from 3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., the Spokane Regional Health District said in a news release. Free flu vaccines and diabetes screenings are also available.

The outbreak began in mid-December with two mumps cases and has led to exclusion orders for unvaccinated students in multiple districts.

The vaccine is about 88 percent effective in preventing mumps after two doses. Statistically, because most people are vaccinated, the majority of mumps cases still occur in vaccinated people. Higher vaccination rates help protect people who can’t get the vaccine, like pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and infants.

“The more people who are vaccinated, the better immunity we have as a community,” health district epidemiologist Betsy Bertelsen said.

Bertelsen said the current outbreak is behaving as epidemiologists would expect. Because mumps has a long incubation period, sometimes three weeks or more, people tend to show up with symptoms in waves.

She said Spokane has had three waves of cases, mostly people who have been in close contact with others who are sick. The county will probably see one or two more waves before the epidemic subsides, she said.

Of the current cases, 91 were vaccinated, 10 were not vaccinated and the vaccination status of the other 51 is unknown.

The vaccination clinic is sponsored by the Salvation Army, Walgreens and the Washington State University College of Pharmacy.

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