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Annual Sessions: Promoting Community Health and Preventing Measles
We’re writing with a health-related policy update for you to consider as Quakers across New England and beyond prepare to gather in Vermont for the Annual Sessions of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, August 3-8. (A PDF version of this letter is available at the bottom of the page.)
If you or Friends from your family or local meeting plan to attend Annual Sessions this August, please read the message below.
June 22, 2019
As you may be aware, U.S. public health officials have recently reported a rise in diagnosed cases of measles, a disease previously declared eliminated in this country. Since measles has been diagnosed in New England, concerns have been raised about the risk of the spread of the disease. Reductions in levels of vaccinations against measles in recent years have increased public health concerns. The Yearly Meeting has received questions about our potential response.
We have been monitoring the situation and considering how we might be called to support the health and wellbeing of those who participate in events hosted by Quakers in New England. We are especially concerned for those who—without choosing to be so—may be vulnerable to illness because they are unable, because of age or medical status, to be vaccinated against measles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have posted answers to frequently asked questions about measles here. Further information for parents can be found here.
After consultation with the Vermont Department of Health and Quaker health care providers, and with prayerful discernment, we are writing to share the following requests and guidance:
- If you plan to attend Annual Sessions, please make sure you are aware of your immunization status—specifically, whether you have received the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine.
- If you are not certain you are immunized, or if you believe your vaccination may not be fully effective (this may be the case if you were vaccinated several decades ago), we encourage you to contact your health care provider to learn more about the possibility of being immunized or re-immunized, to understand the risk factors, and to make an informed decision about what is right for you.
- If you are a parent of a child who is not vaccinated (either because of their age or for any other reason), please be aware that they may come into contact with other people who are unvaccinated. We will be requesting immunization information from children and adults who will participate in the childcare (youngest children) program at Sessions (this information will be shared only with supervising staff).
- If you/someone in your care does have measles symptoms, we ask that you/they do not attend Annual Sessions. If needed, the Yearly Meeting will offer a full refund of registration fees for those who cannot attend for this reason.
- Once at Annual Sessions, if you do experience symptoms that could be measles, we ask that you report it to the Yearly Meeting’s medical on-call team. Information on how to do this will be on the back of your NEYM-issued nametag. The Yearly Meeting is required to report potential cases of measles to the Vermont Department of Health.
- If a case of measles is diagnosed in someone who is attending/has recently attended Sessions, the Yearly Meeting will notify Sessions attenders so that they may seek appropriate treatment if needed.
- As of the writing of this message, there have been no diagnosed cases of measles in Vermont. If a case of measles is diagnosed in Vermont, the Vermont Department of Health may issue further guidelines, and New England Yearly Meeting will follow those guidelines.
If you have specific questions or concerns about this policy, or would like to confidentially discuss your/your family’s situation and needs related to this issue, please contact Leslie Manning, Clerk of Sessions Committee, by email at [email protected] or by phone at 207-319-0342. If you need further assistance, please call the NEYM Office at 508-754-6760.
in faith and service,
Leslie Manning, Clerk of Sessions Committee
Noah Merrill, Secretary
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)