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Health Officials: More Allegheny Co. Kids Getting Measles Vaccinations At Recommended Ages

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The measles - highly contagious, and according to most medical experts, highly preventable.

In fact, in 2000, the measles were considered eliminated. But in 2015 that's all changed.

For the month of January, there were 68 confirmed cases across the country with one confirmed case in central Pennsylvania. Allegheny County has been a little luckier.

"At this point, we have no reported cases of the measles," says Dr. Karen Hacker, of the Allegheny County Health Department.

Health officials here say the strongest weapon they have against measles comes in the form of immunization - the MMR. And here in Allegheny County, officials say more and more children are getting it at the recommended ages.

"A complete vaccine means you've had two those. We have 91 percent of our kindergarteners reporting they are full vaccinated," said Dr. Hacker.

The focus is on kids for two reasons.

If you were born before 1957, the medical community says you have either had both of your shots or been exposed to measles because they were more common then. If you were born after that, you don't need a booster, but it's important that you had both shots of the immunization.

So if you're not sure, you should check to find out.

"We would hope that you would check that you had two shots that would be required for you to enter school or secondary education, college or community college," Dr. Hacker says.

In Pennsylvania, if a parent does not want their child to be immunized, you have to apply for an exemption, and there are three different categories - medical, religious or philosophical.

"Certainly, there are people who have other conditions that compress their immune systems and those aren't people we want to give vaccinations to. The other two you mentioned are moral or religious, and they have been growing in the country," Dr. Hacker says.

In Allegheny County, those who opt out for religious or philosophical reasons are between 1 and 2 percent.

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