Children, taxpayers bear high costs of anti-vax myths
| State’s measles outbreak cost tops $1 mil.; expected to go higher
By Jake Goldstein-Street, Seattle Times – The cost of Washington’s measles outbreak has surpassed $1 million as more than 200 health-department staffers from the state and Clark County focus their efforts on the disease.
As of Tuesday, there were 63 confirmed cases of measles in Clark County, 44 of which were in children under 10 years old, according to the county’s Public Health department, which is also investigating one suspected case.
There is also a single case reported in King County, bringing the statewide total to 64, according to the state Department of Health (DOH).
DOH has spent approximately $614,000 on staff and supplies as of Tuesday, in addition to about $115,000 in other non-budgeted expenditures, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist, who expects the total response to eventually cost the state “well over a million dollars.”
Meanwhile, Clark County Public Health has spent about $500,000 responding to the measles outbreak, bringing the statewide total over $1 million, says Dr. Alan Melnick, the county’s public health director.
“This is taxpayer money for something that could have been completely, utterly preventable in the first place,” he said.
Out of approximately 1,900 total staffers, 166 state Department of Health staff members, working approximately 8,700 hours, have been assigned to the measles outbreak so far, according to Lindquist.
“It’s going to slow down everything else,” Lindquist said, noting that usual work is picked up by the remaining staff or is put aside. “The current public health infrastructure is really threatened by events like this.”
Each Department of Health staffer spends about two weeks at a time in Clark County, which means the state must pay for hotel rooms, their day-to-day costs and travel, according to Lindquist. Read more.
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