Free measles immunizations being offered at Liberty-Dayton hospital on April 27

Shannon Rasy, director of Liberty-Dayton Medical Clinic, and Bill Buchanan, owner of KSHN FM radio, discuss their concerns about a measles outbreak in Liberty County during a press conference on April 17.

By Vanesa Brashier,

Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center’s Rural Health Clinic is teaming up with First Liberty National Bank and KSHN-FM Radio in Liberty to offer free immunizations for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) on April 27, 8 a.m. to noon, at the hospital’s clinic located at 1353 N. Travis St., Liberty.

The recent outbreak of measles cases in the United States — 555 new cases diagnosed since the first of 2019 — has prompted the three entities to organize the vaccination clinic.

“There were 100 new cases diagnosed across the United States this last week. It’s not slowing down. We can’t call it an epidemic yet. I am not trying to get carried away here but it’s heading in that direction with all these new cases being diagnosed,” said Bill Buchanan at a press conference held Wednesday morning at Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center.

Liberty County has not had any measles cases reported in the recent outbreak, but with cases reported in neighboring Harris and Montgomery counties, it is likely a matter of time before the first case is reported.

“Just recently, there was an adult who flew from New York City to Michigan. He was infected before he left New York City. Symptoms don’t show up for 10-12 days, but during those 10-12 days, you can infect other people,” said Shannon Rasy, director of the Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center clinic. “There are 39 new cases in Michigan that are linked to that one adult.”

With a highly-mobile population in Liberty County, where people frequently travel for business or pleasure, there is always a chance for a person to contract an illness in another area, return home and spread the disease to others, Rasy said.

Rasy cited another case involving an American child who flew to Israel. The child returned with measles and infected his entire daycare.

Despite the best efforts to immunize every person for measles, the Centers for Disease Control says that measles is still a leading cause of vaccine-preventable infant mortality. Those who survive the pneumonia, rashes and high fever that come with measles are sometimes left with brain damage and deafness. The most vulnerable segment of the population is children under age 1 as they cannot receive the vaccine.

The CDC recommends that children have two doses of MMR starting between 12-15 months of age with a second dose administered at 4-6 years old. Children older than 1 and adults who have never been vaccinated for MMR can begin the two-step process at any point. The vaccine takes about two weeks in a person’s system before they are immunized against the disease.

On the day of the immunization clinic, Texas Vaccines for Children personnel will be on hand to provide vaccinations for children who qualify based on Medicaid-eligible, underinsured, uninsured, American Indian or Alaska Native.

For those who do not qualify for the Texas Vaccines for Children program, the MMR vaccine will still be provided at no charge thanks to the generosity of Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center, First Liberty National Bank and KSHN-FM radio.

This is no small gift as the vaccines are $76 each.

“For a child without insurance, that’s a lot of money,” Rasy said.

For more information on the vaccination program or help in determining which immunizations are needed for your child, please contact the Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center’s Rural Health Clinic at 936-336-9175.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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