Chicago Mobilizes CDC Team Amidst Measles Outbreak in Migrant Shelter

Chicago Mobilizes CDC Team Amidst Measles Outbreak in Migrant Shelter
Chicago Mobilizes CDC Team Amidst Measles Outbreak in Migrant Shelter. Credit | Getty images

United States — This past week, the city and state officials called in a CDC team to assist them in responding to the measles outbreak at a shelter for migrants in Chicago. The team would provide guidance on the vaccination process among the seven people at the migrant shelter who have already been confirmed to be infected with measles.

As of today, there have been 8 cases of infection in the city since Thursday. The first case seen at the local level since 2019 was reported by the Chicago Department of Public Health. The first one — an adult, not a shelter resident — had no connection to the shelter, as reported by The Association Press.

Measles is a highly transmittable disease still common in many countries outside the U.S. Most transmission cases begin with people traveling internationally from the U.S. — especially in unvaccinated American citizens, per the CDC.

Within days of the announcement, the city publicly declared the area to be the first case among 1900 people at the shelter. The other cases followed at the abandoned warehouse in the North-side neighborhood of Pilsen on Wednesday, three of them confirmed on Tuesday.

CDC Guidance and Vaccination Drive

According to the health authorities responsible, in total there are 7 cases, four children and three adults. Local leaders confirmed that the vaccination stations have already inoculated more than 900 residents over the past two days.

It is not recommended that any vaccine against measles be taken by a pregnant woman or anyone younger than 1.

“We haven’t seen cases of new arrivals coming with measles,” the city’s public health Commissioner, Dr. Olusimbo Ige, said Wednesday. “Measles cases were acquired here. And so, we have been working very hard, taking our responsibility to safeguard the health of the new arrivals seriously.”

Cluster in City-Run Shelter

Highlighting an individual cluster within the city-run shelter can prove that Chicago has had several layers of difficulties in response to almost 37,000 people’s arriving since 2022 when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott started sending buses to the so-called “sanctuary cities.”

Chicago first utilized police stations and airports, but later, the officials looked for other places that were temporary shelters. Yesterday, the city data indicated that over 11,000 people stay in the city-run shelters.

There is a significant medical component in that work; from vaccination to treatment of conditions influenced by a length of the journey to the United States border with Mexico.

A lot of migrants who arrive in Chicago are from Venezuela, and they are suffering from the malaise of poverty as a result of that social, political, and economic crisis, which has been pushing millions of people into poverty. These issues, in addition to the shortage of doctors and drugs, have affected the behavior of patients through lower affordability, availability of routine care, and trust in the medical institutions. According to UNICEF, Venezuela has reported one of the lowest vaccination coverages for children in the world.

In 2022, Cook County officials inaugurated a clinic that provided assistance, shots, and access to other public health services.

Alex Normington of Cook County Health said providers give peoples all necessary measles, flu, COVID-19 and other viruses vaccines. So far, more than 73,000 vaccines have been given in this clinic.

Provider staff also provide services in rotation in every shelter city and lengthen their hours along with tireless efforts to contain the outbreak, Normington said.

Aside from that, migrant shelter volunteers have often protested against the condition they’ve been observed in, as a result of the death of a five-year-old boy with measles who became ill while staying at a shelter where the current cases have been reported.

Volunteer Advocacy and Criticisms

They contest this to be a reflection of the local government that didn’t ensure refugees’ access to healthcare, as reported by The Association Press.

“This is not the new arrivals’ fault — this is a public health emergency a long time in the making,” Annie Gomberg, a volunteer, said in a statement. “Everyone arriving here should be screened and vaccinated, just like we did at Ellis Island over 100 years ago. Not put in overcrowded shelters to languish.”