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Strength of MMR vaccine questioned amid mumps outbreak - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Strength of MMR vaccine questioned amid mumps outbreak

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COLORADO SPRINGS -

Colorado health officials are asking hospitals across the state to watch out for cases of the mumps. Six people in Denver have come down with the disease so far in 2016, and officials are calling it an outbreak. 

Mumps is usually mild disease, but it's been very uncommon for years now. New information seems to indicate the vaccination you got as a child could be wearing off over time. The MMR vaccine is given to children in two phases. Doctors believe it has about an 88 percent immunity rate. All six people that contracted mumps in Denver had been vaccinated.

"What we're finding out now is that after 15 to 20 years, the immunity fades," said Dr. James Terbush, the Interim Medical Director of El Paso County Public Health.

The CDC isn't recommending a booster shot just yet. "We're waiting for additional information on that," Dr. Terbush said. 

A titer test can measure the level of antibodies in your blood. The El Paso County Public Health lab can do the test with orders from your doctor.

Every year, more Colorado children aren't getting vaccinated. "The opt out provision in Colorado allows parents, for a variety of reasons, choose not to vaccinate their kids," Dr. Terbush said.

According to the CDC, Colorado comes in 3rd in the country for highest rates of vaccination exemptions. 5.4 percent of Colorado kindergartners are "opted out" of getting vaccinated.

"Parents get those kids vaccinated," Dr. Terbush said. "It's absolutely essential."

14 percent of Colorado kids haven't gotten immunized. That's the highest unvaccinated rate in the country.

Mumps is now so uncommon that six cases does constitute an outbreak. "Denver usually sees about 2.5 cases per year," said Dr. Terbush said. "Our last case in El Paso County was in April of 2010. It's a very rare disease here."

While most cases are mild, mumps can cause complications like meningitis and deafness. The most recognizable symptom is swelling of glands in the neck. The first Denver person to contract mumps had recently moved to Colorado from Iowa. 

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