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EDITORIAL: From Deerfield to Greek Town — how exposure to measles can travel fast

The resurgence of measles has caused widespread concern and a surge of proposed new laws.
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Why do we believe that every child, with rare exceptions, should be vaccinated?

Because vaccinations are not about protecting one person. They are about protecting us all.

A chilling timeline, released Thursday by the Cook County Department of Public Health, makes the argument better than any words. It documents how a single person with measles earlier this month, moving around the Chicago area for seven days, exposed thousands of others to the potentially dangerous disease.

At a high school. And a fitness center. And a cleaners. And a home furnishings store. And a grocery story. And a restaurant. And a theater. And a hair salon. And a gas station. And a Dairy Queen.

If nobody else caught the bug, we were plain lucky.

In Illinois and across the nation, as we wrote earlier this month, measles are making a comeback, largely because fewer parents are having their children vaccinated. That decision — sometimes made for religious reasons but often because of a baseless fear of vaccinations — puts those children at risk, of course, but others, too.

For sound medical reasons, not all children can be vaccinated. That includes children under the age of two and those who have severe allergies or weakened immune systems. Their risk of contracting measles or another such disease increases when children who can be safely immunized are not.

So far this year in the United States, 314 cases of measles have been reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This compares to 372 cases for all of last year, and just 120 cases in 2017. The numbers are relatively small, but growing fast.

In Illinois, seven cases have been reported, compared to just 5 for all of last year and none in 2017.

In the days of our grandparents and great-grandparents, tens of thousands of children each year were permanently disabled or killed by childhood diseases that, thanks to the advent of community-wide vaccination programs, were all but eradicated. In the single year of 1920, 7,575 people died of complications from measles.

Had President Franklin D. Roosevelt been born and grown up in the 1960s or later, he almost certainly would not have contracted polio.

We cannot emphasize this enough: Get your children vaccinated. For everybody’s sake.

This is the travel history, released by county health officials, of the local person who reportedly had a contagious case of measles at the time:

  • 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., March 17, Rochelle Zell Jewish High School, 1095 Lake Cook Rd., Deerfield
  • 9 a.m. to noon, March 18, Full Circle Fitness, 55 Green Bay Rd., Glencoe
  • 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 18, Dunbrook Cleaners and Tailors, 2750 Dundee Rd., Northbrook
  • 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 18, Bed Bath and Beyond, 96 S. Waukegan Rd., Deerfield
  • 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., March 18, Sunset Foods, 1127 Church St., Northbrook
  • 5 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. March 19, Greek Islands Restaurant, 200 S. Halsted St., Chicago
  • 7:15 p.m. to 11:45 p.m., March 19, 2019, Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., Chicago
  • 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., March 21, Home Depot, 655 Lake Cook Rd., Deerfield
  • 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. March 21, Medical Office, 707 Lake Cook Rd. Deerfield
  • 2 p.m. 5:30 p.m., March 21, Giorgio Elan Salon, 9025 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles
  • 3:45 p.m. to 6 p.m., March 21, Shell Gas Station, 9002 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles
  • 1:45 p.m. to 6:40 p.m. March 21, Fresh Farms, 8203 W. Golf Rd., Niles
  • 4:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 21, Dunbrook Cleaners and Tailors, 2750 Dundee Rd., Northbrook
  • 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 21, Dairy Queen, 2770 Dundee Rd., Northbrook
  • 1:15 to 3:45 p.m. March 22, medical office, 707 Lake Cook Rd., Deerfield
  • 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., March 22, Glenbrook Hospital Laboratory and Oncology Center, 2100 Pfingsten Rd., Glenview
  • 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 23, Northshore Urgent Care, 49 Waukegan Rd., Deerfield
  • 10:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. March 23, Northshore Evanston Hospital, ER, 2650 Ridge Ave. Evanston

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