Why is there a mumps outbreak in Massachusetts?

22News spoke with the Northampton Health Department to get answers

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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Public Health Director Merridith O’Leary told 22News Massachusetts is seeing an uptick in the number of cases of the mumps. This, despite a vaccine that came out in 1967.

An outbreak at Harvard University has spread to 40 people who have all been isolated. O’Leary said it’s important to get both doses of the MMR vaccine, one at 12 months, the other at age 6. If you travel overseas, talk with your doctor about a booster vaccine.

“We see outbreaks at universities and secondary types of colleges because people live in close quarters, you have professors who go on sabbatical,” said O’Leary. “The number one reason it is brought over to the United States is because of international travel.”

In Hampshire County, 5% of children are not vaccinated; that may not sound like a lot, but it’s much higher than the state average of 1.2%. Before the vaccine in 1967, there were about 500,000 cases of the mumps in the U.S. each year; after the vaccine that number dropped to between 30 and 60.

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