As measles cases in the U.S. hit new highs and as kids get ready to head to summer camp, associations are offering resources and recommendations for ensuring every camper is vaccinated.
With measles making a major comeback, summer camps around the country are taking a tougher stance on vaccination—and they’re getting help from associations to keep campers safe.
The American Camp Association (ACA) and the Association of Camp Nursing (ACN) are providing resources and recommendations so that both children and adults taking part in summer camps are properly vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. ACA, which accredits about 3,100 camps nationwide, noted that camps have been working with local officials around the country to prepare for the season ahead.
“This year in particular, similar to schools and other places, camps are being very strict about allowing children without immunizations,” said Susie Lupert, executive director of the ACA’s New York and New Jersey chapter.
In a measles update on the national organization’s website, ACA explains in detail why the disease is a serious problem at summer camps:
Measles is highly contagious and spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to nine out of 10 people around them will also become infected if they are not protected. You can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left. An infected person can spread measles to others even before he or she develops symptoms—from four days before they develop the measles rash through four days afterward.
An ACN measles brief [PDF], released last month, advises camps that any child who doesn’t have a vaccination record should be revaccinated, except in cases of a medical exemption. It also suggests how to guide parents who say they do not want to have their children vaccinated.
“Parents want to do their homework when it comes to their children’s health,” the brief states. “Encourage them to learn about measles and the MMR vaccine from reliable sources like the CDC or their personal healthcare provider.”
ACN also offers a guide [PDF] for managing communicable diseases at a camp. While not specific to measles, the guide was recently updated and dictates a campwide response plan for handling an outbreak, from healthcare to food service to communication with parents and the media.
Amid the rising concern, vaccination policies have gotten stricter than ever, ACA’s Lupert told the Wall Street Journal.
“It’s intense,” she said. “We’re finding that some camps are blatantly saying to families, ‘Do not come to our camp unless you have immunizations.’”