Measles: The Importance of Immunization for all Children

Measles: The Importance of Immunization for all Children

In 2017 more than 22 million children were not vaccinated for measles. And in 2019, we are now facing the largest outbreak since the 1990s. Measles can be very dangerous for children.

What is Measles?

Measles is a very contagious viral disease that can be serious for young children. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes; it is so contagious that if one person has it, 9 out of 10 people in the same area will become infected if they aren’t protected/immunized. Someone can become infected just by being in the room where an infected person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left. It spreads to others through coughing and sneezing.

Exposure to measles happens two to three weeks before physical symptoms appear.

Measles begins with cold symptoms that include:

  • cough
  • runny nose
  • red, watery eyes
  • High fever following cold symptoms such as cough, runny nose, red eyes (fever may spike to 104-105 degrees)
  • Rash (tiny red spots) breaks out 3-5 days after physical symptoms begin. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the boy.

Measles can be very serious for children. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death.

Children Need 2 Doses of the Measles Vaccine

You can protect your child against measles with a combination vaccine that provides protection against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).  The MMR vaccine is proven to be very safe and effective and research has proven that the autism rate is the same in vaccinated children compared to unvaccinated children.

CDC recommends that children get one dose at each of the following ages:

  • 12 through 15 months
  • 4 through 6 years

Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses according to the routinely recommended schedule (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose at 4 through 6 years of age or at least 28 days later).

Do You or Your Children Need a Booster or to be Re-vaccinated?

If you have acceptable evidence of immunity (proof of protection) against measles you do not need a booster to be vaccinated. So, please ensure you and your children fall into one of the following criteria:

  • written documentation of adequate vaccination
    • record confirming 2 doses of vaccine for school age children, adults at high risk, college students, healthcare personnel and international travelers
    • laboratory evidence of immunity
  • laboratory confirmation of measles
  • birth in the United States before 1957

When not to Immunize

There are certain cases and situations where someone should not receive the measles vaccine which include the following:

  • severe reaction to 1st dose of the vaccine
  • pregnant or planning to be pregnant
  • weak immune system
  • family  member with decreased immunity
  • tuberculosis
  • recent blood transfusions
  • Any other live virus vaccine received within 28 days

Measles in the U.S.

Measles cases and outbreaks have been reported in the U.S. in 2019. At the present time, the U.S. is experiencing the largest measles outbreak since the 90’s with more than 20 states impacted. See Measles Cases and Outbreaks for details.

People in the United States still get measles, but it’s not very common. That’s because 92% of  people here in the U.S. are protected against measles through vaccination. However, measles is still common in other parts of the world. Every year, unvaccinated people get measles while they are abroad, bring the disease into the United States, and spread it to others.

Measles can spread quickly in communities where people are not vaccinated. Anyone who is not protected against measles, including children too young to be vaccinated, are at risk of getting infected. That’s why it is so important to be up to date on vaccinations, including before traveling abroad.

“To protect us during the outbreak we need minimum 95% immunization. We have got to immunize everyone. That is the only way we can protect our children, our society, country and the world. I beg you to immunize your children.”

– Dr. Mishra, Pediatrician, Murray County Medical Center

Make Sure You Are Protected Before International TravelMother holding daughter's and son's hands in airport

Before you leave for your trip, check the CDC Travel Notices on measles. And ensure your children are protected before you take off to another country!

  • Infants 6—11 months old need 1 dose of measles vaccine
  • Children 12 months and older need 2 doses separated by at least 28 days
  • Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get 2 doses separated by at least 28 days

Additional Resources for Parents and Childcare Providers

Check out these resources for parents and others who care for children, including childcare providers.

Paying for Measles Vaccine

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. But you may want to check with your health insurance provider before going to the doctor. Learn how to pay for vaccines.

If you don’t have insurance or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, the Vaccines for Children Program may be able to help. This program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. To find out if your child is eligible, visit the VFC website or ask your child’s doctor. You can also contact your state VFC coordinator.

To See if Your Child’s Vaccine Is Due

Source: CDC


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