Urgent care centers and retail clinics have made recent news headlines again as a result of the measles outbreak, which has now infected over 130 people and spread to 17 different states in addition to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Several urgent care centers in the areas surrounding Disneyland — where outbreak originated — temporarily closed their doors at the beginning of the outbreak in order to minimize exposure to patients not infected by the virus.
However, the measles outbreak has also served as a platform of discussion for parents and pediatricians over the risks associated early childhood vaccinations. While there are only a handful of official studies linking early childhood vaccination to chronic illness, developmental disorders, and even death, several parents have come forward using their own children as examples of how deadly vaccines can be. This has sparked a national debate over different parenting styles and risks associated with vaccination.
Health officials recommend that all parents review the risks associated with childhood vaccination with their pediatrician in order to make an informed decision.
The measles outbreak has also sparked debate of the roles of urgent care clinics, and retail clinics. As urgent care facilities and retail clinics continue to take on more of a significant role in the American health care system, it can be difficult for patients to determine where to seek appropriate care.
While urgent care centers continue to offer a wide range of services — with some boasting lab services, x-ray capability, and in-house pharmacies — they are not a replacement for emergency medical care. Many urgent care centers are not equipped to treat highly infectious diseases such as measles, which may require quarantine.
When in doubt, it’s best to contact your local urgent care clinic in order to discuss your options and receive some guidance as to where to seek the right care.