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Communication Toolkit for Measles
The following materials have been designed for use by local and regional health departments in Texas to address measles. Most of the documents have been made available in .doc format so that they can be modified as needed by each jurisdiction. Documents intended for the public (as opposed to healthcare professionals) have been translated into Spanish.
Measles Fact Sheet (English and Spanish): The target population for the fact sheet is the general public. It can be used as a handout at conferences, given to cases and contacts, given by physicians to patients, and placed on websites. The fact sheet can be found online at:
Letter to Physicians (Health Alert): Once a case is identified, it is vital to notify local area physicians and hospitals as soon as possible. There are multiple purposes for this letter:
- To reduce transmission of measles during an outbreak by raising the physician’s index of suspicion for measles, thereby identifying and isolating patients appropriately
- To ensure complete and prompt reporting by healthcare providers
- To ensure appropriate testing and prophylaxis of measles suspects and contacts, and appropriate exclusion from school/work for cases
- To remind health care providers of the importance of vaccinating patients appropriately
Given the specific situation, certain aspects of the letter can be removed or highlighted (e.g. in an undervaccinated community, the immunizations piece may be the most critical).
The letter should be sent out under local health authority/local health department letterhead whenever possible. When a case or suspect has been identified, it is recommended that all pediatricians, family practice physicians, internists, infectious disease physicians, general practitioners, obstetricians/gynecologists, nurse practitioners, hospitals, and urgent care facilities within the local jurisdiction be notified. Generally, the scope of the alert should not be limited to a small geographic area (zip code, school district, etc.) because many clients travel outside of their residential area to visit their physician of choice. In some cases, the regional office may need to send out letters to surrounding counties. Please share a copy with your DSHS regional office and central office if you distribute a health alert.
Measles Press Release: News organizations will be interested in running stories about measles during outbreaks. The document provides some suggestions for key points to include in a press release or news story. Many example articles can be found by conducting an internet search on measles. If you plan to issue a press release, please share a copy with your DSHS regional office and central office, as we may also receive media questions.
Measles Vaccine Recommendations (English and Spanish): This handout can be included with the letter to physicians, given as a handout to the public, or used on the web. This handout is intended primarily for healthcare providers but can be used to provide summary measles vaccine information to anyone interested. The source for the content of this handout is based on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices found at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr5903.pdf. Links to information regarding vaccine safety and beliefs/concerns regarding autism can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/Autism/antigens.html
Measles Testing: The handout can be included with the letter to physicians, given as a handout at healthcare conferences, and included on websites. Confirmatory testing, including PCR, is available through DSHS and should be done on highly suspected cases. This handout is intended for healthcare providers only. Information regarding testing for measles can also be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/measles/lab-tools/serology.html.
Exposure Notification Script (English and Spanish): Exposed individuals identified during the post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) period (72 hours after exposure for MMR and 6 days after exposure for IG) should be contacted via telephone or in person. The contact should be made as soon as possible to facilitate the exposed individuals receiving PEP. In certain situations, the number of people exposed may be so large that staff or volunteers from multiple agencies or facilities are needed to make phone calls. Telephone contact can be made by the health department, the site of the exposure (e.g. school, hospital), the Medical Reserve Corps or other volunteer organizations. Staff at the DSHS regional office and central office may also be available to assist.
This script is intended for in person or telephone outreach to inform individuals of their exposure to measles. The conversation should (1) notify about the potential exposure, (2) ascertain current symptoms and immune status, (3) provide information about PEP and direct unvaccinated individuals to where they can obtain PEP, (4) educate on how to recognize signs and symptoms of measles, (5) explain what to do if they have or develop measles symptoms, and (6) identify additional exposed individuals (e.g. people exposed in ER waiting rooms may have had a companion with them that would not be on the hospital roster).
Notification Letter to Parents/Guardians for School and Daycare (English and Spanish): The letter is meant to inform parents and guardians of a case or suspect at their child’s school. Letters to parents should (1) notify parent/guardian about the potential exposure, (2) educate parent/guardian on how to recognize signs and symptoms of measles, (3) provide information about vaccination and what parents need to do to protect their child, and (4) explain what to do if they have or develop measles symptoms. This letter can be sent from the school or the local health authority/local health department or both. Letters should be sent to parents/guardians that could not be reached by phone or if the prophylaxis window has already passed.
Healthcare Exposure Notification Letter (English and Spanish): The letter is meant to inform patients that they were exposed or potentially exposed to a patient with measles while at a specific healthcare facility. Letters to exposed patients should (1) notify patient about the potential exposure, (2) educate patient on how to recognize signs and symptoms of measles, (3) provide information about vaccination, and (4) explain what to do if they have or develop measles symptoms. This letter can be sent from the healthcare facility where the exposure occurred or the local health authority/department or both. Letters should be sent to patients that could not be reached by phone or if the prophylaxis window has already passed.