We’re number one…..though, in this instance, being tops in the nation is not necessarily a good thing. Arizona is currently the site of the largest measles outbreak in the country (22 cases) and numerous reports suggest some workers aren’t doing enough to help the situation.
Health officials in Arizona say the largest current measles outbreak in the United States is in part because some workers at a federal immigration detention center refuse to get vaccinated.
Authorities have confirmed 22 measles cases in Arizona since late May. They all stem from the Eloy Detention Center, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility managed by the private Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
Pinal County health director Thomas Schryer said the outbreak likely began with a migrant but that detainees have since been vaccinated. Convincing employees to get vaccinated or show proof of immunity has proven much tougher, he said.
“And so they’re actually the ones that are passing along the measles among each other and then going out into the community,” Schryer said.
According to AzCentral.com, Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said as of early last week, about 40 percent, or about 160 of the 400 or so CCA workers employed at the facility, had either not been vaccinated or had not provided documentation that they are immune to the disease.
“Unfortunately there are not any requirements for them to be vaccinated, and so unfortunately because measles is so highly infectious, they were being exposed to it, contracting the disease, and our worry is that they are bringing it out into the community and spreading it among community members,” Dr. Christ said.
Dr. Christ is quoted in the Washington Times as saying, the facility has been more responsive in the past few days and that a large number of CCA employees were immunized late last week. “Once they understand how important it is and the outcomes it can have on the community, they tend to cooperate. So we hope to get a cooperative response from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).” Christ said.
What do you think about this latest update on our state’s measles outbreak? Should we do more? Can we do more? Finding new ways to work together to address our state’s most pressing health issues is key to our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!