Health & Fitness

Safeway, Albertsons to offer free measles shots to child-care workers, volunteers

The Washington state Department of Health is working with Safeway and Albertsons to offer free measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines to child-care workers and volunteers.

Across the state, 15 Safeway and Albertsons locations will offer the vaccine through June 2020 to uninsured and under-insured child-care workers and volunteers. The Safeway at 3215 Harrison Ave. NW in Olympia is among the sites; a list of other participating locations is available on the Department of Health’s website.

The move comes days before a new Washington law goes into effect “requiring all staff and volunteers of licensed child-care centers to be immunized against measles,” according to a press release from the Department of Health. Adults working in schools and child-care centers will need to provide proof of vaccination or immunity from measles.

The law also removes personal and philosophical exemptions to the MMR vaccination requirement in public and private schools and child-care centers. Medical and religious exemptions are still allowed.

After July 28, parents who had previously used the personal and philosophical exemption will need to vaccinate their children to enroll them in school or child care.

The new law, and the Department of Health’s new program, goes into effect during the ongoing measles outbreak across Washington. Health Promotions Supervisor Danielle Koenig confirmed Washington is “still in outbreak status with the measles.” She clarified no cases have been confirmed within the last two weeks, but the illness can take up to 21 days before symptoms present, so it’s difficult to anticipate whether more are to come.

There are 13 confirmed cases in the current outbreak, with 96 total cases so far in 2019. Of those affected, most have been between the ages of 1 and 10, with cases among 11 to 18 year olds coming in second.

Young children are particularly susceptible to contracting the measles because they can’t be administered an MMR vaccine until they are 12 months old. People with suppressed immune systems and pregnant women are at an increased risk for complications from the measles, according to the CDC.

Measles vaccinations are free for Washington state residents under the age of 19, and are commonly covered by insurance.