Orange County, California Is Experiencing Its Worst Measles Outbreak in Decades

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Orange County, California health officials are reporting a “record breaking” outbreak of measles in which 21 people have been infected and seven have had to be hospitalized. Health officials are setting up vaccination clinics and urging residents to contact health service providers in order to find out whether they have been vaccinated, or where they can go to receive a vaccine.

Over the past several months, several outbreaks of measles have been observed throughout the country in Boston, New York, Texas, Connecticut, Illinois, and in the California cities of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Francisco. The increasing number of outbreaks have been directly tied to more people choosing to forgo these preventative measures based on conspiracy theories that vaccines are linked to autism.

Refusing to vaccinate yourself or your children not only puts yourself and your children at risk, but also those who have not had access to health care and immunizations. “It’s very contagious, and what we’re trying to do is prevent the exposure and spread,” O.C. Health Deputy Agency Director Eric Handler told CBS News about the recent measles outbreak. “The measles virus can cause inflammation in the brain that can appear immediately, or seven years out.”

The Affordable Care Act considers the availability of immunizations to be an important aspect of preventative healthcare, and now requires insurance providers to offer them free of charge and without a copay. The more than one million Californians who have enrolled in Obamacare plans are now benefiting from that provision.

Mason Atkins is an intern at ThinkProgress.