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First Measles Cases Confirmed In Marin County, Bay Area Battleground For Vaccination Debate

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) - The national measles outbreak has now spread to Marin County, where the Department of Health and Human Services confirms that two children have come down with the disease.

Marin County has the highest opt-out rate for immunization in the Bay Area, and one of the highest in the state. The county has reported unvaccinated rates close to eight percent in recent years, more than double the state average. Many parents have used "personal belief exemptions" to decline vaccines fearing a link between autism and vaccinations. Here's a map from the Marin Health and Human Services showing where those exemptions are used in kindergartens:

The research that that first drew that link has largely been discredited in recent years.

Health officials say the patients diagnosed Wednesday are siblings who were unvaccinated and became infected outside the county. Doctors where provided with guidelines on how to stop the potential spread of the disease.

PHOTOS: Children Infected With Measles

"Providers should be advised regarding the need to triage patients with rashlike illness either into separate exam rooms or arrange for patients to be seen outside of the office, e.g. in their cars," reads the memo to county health professionals. "Patients calling for appointments due to rash-like illness should be instructed to call upon arrival from outside the office and immediately be escorted into a private room away from the general waiting room area."

The kids infected were reportedly out of school during the infectious period, and will now remain isolated for three weeks.

"Children are infectious up to four days before they develop symptoms, so we want to make sure that protection is built in," Marin County Health Officer Matt Willis said addressing a potential outbreak earlier this week.

Earlier this week KPIX 5 reported that one Marin family has called for a ban on unvaccinated children attending class, citing the fact that their child - who could not be vaccinated due to leukemia treatments - and others are placed at a greater risk of infection.

"I think every child in a public school needs to be vaccinated from those kind of diseases or they shouldn't be allowed to go to the school," mother Susan Cox said.

As of January 28th, there were 79 confirmed cases of measles in California in twelve counties.

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