PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. —The Florida Department of Health is working quickly to track down people exposed to the measles virus.
“It is very contagious,” said Beatriz Sankey, a pediatrician at North Pinellas Childrens’ Medical Center in Palm Harbor.
Pinellas County has a total of three cases, and there are even more nationwide. Sankey says vaccines are the best way to protect your child from the virus.
"In situations like this I think it teaches us a lesson that we’re putting our kids at risk of being sick and getting sick when we can very easily prevent it,” she said.
Earlier this month, North Pinellas Childrens’ Medical Center had to call a handful of parents about a potential measles exposure. They say anyone who was at risk is aware and are monitoring their kids for symptoms. They cannot confirm or deny they had a patient with measles in their facility. They say the chances of contracting it are rare when you’re vaccinated.
Every kid going to a Pinellas County school must be vaccinated unless they have a state exemption.
According to district data, 279 kids are medically exempt and 2,348 are religiously exempt.
The Florida Department of Health says 78 percent of kids in Pinellas, and 85 percent statewide are caught up on their required vaccines.
"You never know who’s carrying what disease out there, so we think it’s better and safe to have them vaccinated when they have the chance to get the vaccine,” said Sankey.
She says they usually recommend kids get their measles vaccine between 12-15 months but say if parents are really worried, they can get their child vaccinated starting at 6 months.
Symptoms of Measles include high fevers, a bright red rash, coughing, runny nose and lack of appetite. If you’re concerned contact your doctor right away.