The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is encouraging families to protect their children, themselves and their communities by scheduling vaccinations for their children during this year’s school spring break.

“Vaccinations are safe and effective, and help protect our children, our parents, and our friends and neighbors,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, DHS Deputy Secretary. “They help keep kids from missing school and parents from missing work or other activities due to illnesses which can be very serious and can be prevented.”

So far this year, some 228 measles cases have been confirmed in 12 states, including Illinois, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Measles is a very serious disease, and can result in side effects like pneumonia or encephalitis, or even death.

Measles is so contagious that if one person is infected with it, 9 out of 10 people around them will also get sick from the virus if they are not protected. With so many people traveling for work and vacation, especially during spring break, getting vaccinated can help keep a measles outbreak from coming to your neighborhood.

When you get your family vaccinated, you’re protecting children under a year old because they’re too young to get the measles vaccine, as well as those whose immune systems don’t work well. The first dose of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination is recommended for children at one year, with a second dose at 4-6 years, when entering kindergarten.

It’s also not too late to get a flu shot, health officials say, as the number of cases is increasing and a new flu strain includes more severe symptoms than those seen earlier in the season.

You can find out which immunizations your children need by checking the Wisconsin Immunization Registry.