Tacoma parents have been vaccinating their kids in high numbers following the outbreaks of mumps in three Tacoma schools.
There are few students left at Stadium High School, Jason Lee Middle School and McCarver Elementary School who haven’t been vaccinated, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
All three schools had students who came down with the highly contagious illness.
Of the previously unvaccinated and under-vaccinated students, 71 percent at Jason Lee Middle School and 85 percent at Stadium High School are now vaccinated, according to the Tacoma School District.
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Students from the affected schools who were not up to date with their measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations had to miss class.
As of Feb. 16, the Health Department is reporting 17 confirmed mumps cases and 35 probable cases. School districts affected include Tacoma, Fife, and Puyallup.
Of those cases, 63 percent were age 17 or under and 69 percent were up to date on their MMR vaccination. The two-dose vaccine is 88 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Friday, the tally of school mumps cases stood at four at Stadium, two at Jason Lee and one at McCarver.
Students cannot attend school during an exclusion period if they did not get the required vaccinations. Mumps can spread quickly in schools.
Because of two recent mumps cases at Stadium, the Health Department extended the exclusion period at that school to March 10.
The McCarver student was no longer ill when the Health Department became aware of the case. Because of that the Health Department has not recommended an exclusion for that school.
In all cases, the students contracted mumps away from school, according to the Health Department.
Free immunizations are available during most weekdays at the South Hill Mall. For a list of other dates and times and other immunization options, visit tpchd.org/immunizations.
What is mumps?
Mumps is a highly contagious viral illness. An infected person can spread it through face-to-face contact by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. Mumps can also spread when people share cups and eating utensils. Mumps is a condition that health providers must report to the local health department when a probable or diagnosed case occurs.
What are the symptoms?
Mumps is best known for causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw, the result of swollen salivary glands. Other symptoms are:
• Muscle Aches
• Loss of Appetite
Up to 10 percent of teen boys and men can experience swelling of the testicles. Meningitis and encephalitis are rare but serious complications of mumps.
How can you prevent mumps?
Immunization is the most effective way to prevent mumps. Children must have two doses of the MMR vaccine to attend school. Other ways to protect yourself:
• Avoid contact with anyone infected with mumps.
• Wash your hands with soap and water.
• Don’t share cups and eating utensils.
Who is more likely to get mumps?
• Babies less than one year old.
• Children older than one who have not received at least one dose of the MMR.
• Adults born in or after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or have not had mumps before.
Source: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department