Cost of Washington state's measles outbreak jumps over $1 million

Cost of Washington state's measles outbreak jumps over $1 million

FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2019 file photo signs posted at The Vancouver Clinic in Vancouver, Wash., warn patients and visitors of a measles outbreak. A measles outbreak near Portland, Ore., has revived a bitter debate over so-called personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccinations. Four percent of Washington secondary school students have non-medical vaccine exemptions. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus,File)

The cost of southwest Washington’s measles outbreak has jumped over $1 million statewide, according to state epidemiologist Scott Lindquist.

According to Dr. Lindquist, contacting and testing sick people — mostly children — and trying to figure out who else they might have exposed, has been a trying and expensive process.

That $1 million price tag accounts for a whole host of tests, procedures, and more.

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“Every single case, you have to identify, you have to test, you have to isolate that person, [and] you have to do the interview of where were they at in the public — I mean it’s very labor-intensive,” he told KIRO Radio.

Most of the 64 people sick were unvaccinated, something that’s currently being addressed in the state Legislature with a bill that would remove personal exemptions for parents vaccinating children.

For this current outbreak, though, it’s something that could have been avoided altogether.

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“This is taxpayer dollars that’s paying for an outbreak which would have been 100 percent preventable,” he noted.

And all that is state money, that doesn’t even take into account what Clark County alone has spent.

For state employees, it’s seen professionals spending time away to address what’s been the sole focus of health officials.

"We’re talking about 162 people that have been pulled from the agency away from their regular jobs to actually support this outbreak investigation.”

On the upside, Lindquist also believes we may be at the end of the epidemic, as long as no new, unvaccinated, people are exposed.