Letter to the editor.
This is a letter to the editor from Dr. William Klepack, medical director of the Tompkins County Health Department. To submit letters, email tips@ithacavoice.com.

Lack of community immunity is a real thing as shown by the measles outbreak in Rockland County, which now accounts for about two hundred cases. This number continues to increase. More than 387 measles cases have been confirmed in the US so far this year.

When nearly everyone is immunized against a disease we say “community immunity” exists. When the majority of people are immunized, those who cannot be immunized because of a medical condition are far more protected. Children and adults who are on medications that weaken their immune systems or have a medical condition preventing vaccination are dependent for protection on whether others have been immunized. The disease can circulate far more easily in a community where many are not vaccinated. For a child or adult even to go to school, go shopping or go to work becomes risky because of the chance of encountering someone who is ill.

Being vaccinated is a normal thing to do. The body responds to vaccines by making antibodies to protect you against diseases. Becoming vaccinated prevents you, yourself, from falling ill and also protects those around you. Make no mistake, unvaccinated people in Rockland County have become seriously ill and ended up in the hospital. Pregnant moms have fallen ill and exposed their unborn babies. Adults as well as children have become sick with measles.

Community immunity prevents the spread of disease. Keep yourselves and your loved ones up to date with immunizations for your own sake and everyone else’s. For more information, contact your health practitioner or Tompkins County Health Department.

Dr. William Klepack
Medical Director
Tompkins County Health Department