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Chicago steps up vaccinations amid measles outbreak tied to migrant shelter

Growing concerns over measles in Chicago
Growing concerns over measles in Chicago 02:58

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago is ramping up vaccination efforts amid growing concerns over measles, as the numbef of confirmed cases continues to rise.

At last check, the Chicago Department of Public Health has confirmed 12 cases of measles since last Friday. Ten of those cases have been traced back to the city's largest migrant shelter, in Pilsen, including at least two migrant children who attend Chicago Public Schools.

While students typically are required to be vaccinated to enroll in school in Illinois, asylum seekers can be exempted from vaccination.

Ariel Jaripe-Oliva, who arrived in Chicago on Wednesday, said he and everyone staying at the city's landing zone for newly arrived migrants have been given the measles vaccine.

Mayor Brandon Johnson has touted a recent vaccination rate of 100% at that intake center, as part of a huge push to get people vaccinated amid the ongoing measles outbreak.

Ariel and his family were hoping to move into a shelter like the one in Pilsen, where residents who have been exposed to measles and are now sick or who are at high risk for the disease – like pregnant women – have been moved into hotels, and placed under quarantine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have sent a field team of seven people to assist in stopping the spread of measles in Chicago. Demetre Daskalakis, Director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, explained the current outbreak is not comparable to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

"I think when you look at this, it's an outbreak. We've had more than three cases. Why is three cases plus equal to a measles outbreak? Because we don't want to have any. So  we really are trying to approach zero tolerance of measles in the U.S., because we want to keep it eliminated. So we have a very low bar for calling an outbreak. And so this qualifies," he said. "I think that what's really important is measles is not COVID. So we have a very high level of immunity in the population. This is not a foe that is new to us. It's a foe that we know, and we know how we can prevent it."

The outbreak began as many migrants in city shelters face a Saturday deadline to move out of their shelter, as the city will begin enforcing a 60-day shelter stay limit first announced in November, but that has been repeatedly delayed until now.

The city plans to move migrants who have reached that 60-day deadline out of shelters starting Saturday. Those who don't have anywhere else to go have the option to head back to the migrant landing zone to reapply for shelter.

The mayor's office has not answered questions about how many migrants will be impacted starting Saturday, what happens when people return to the landing zone, or what the reapplication process will look like.

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