Measles

Measles

The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect you and your family from measles.

What is Measles?
Measles is a highly infectious respiratory disease that can result in severe, sometimes permanent, complications including pneumonia, seizures (jerking and staring), brain damage, and death. It is highly contagious and spreads easily by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. In fact, it is so contagious that if an individual has measles, 9 out of 10 of their close contacts who are not immune will also become infected. Symptoms include rash, cough, runny nose, eye irritation, and fever. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears.


Why should I get vaccinated?

Measles cases in the US are at a 15-year high, due largely to international travel. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of November 2018, 220 individual cases of measles were confirmed in 26 states and the District of Columbia and a total of 15 outbreaks (defined as 3 or more linked cases) have been reported in 2018.

Measles can be serious:
  • About 1 in 4 people in the US who get measles will be hospitalized
  • 1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling, which could lead to brain damage
  • 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care

Infant & Childhood Immunization Recommendations
In the US, two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended for children. Infants normally get their first measles vaccine between 12 and 15 months followed by another shot between 4 and 6 years. However, CDC recommends that any baby as young as 6 months old that will be travelling internationally should get a vaccine before leaving the US, followed by two more vaccines later.

  • Infants should receive their first dose at 12-15 months of age
  • the second dose should be provided before entering school, at 4-6 years of age

Adolescent & Adult Immunizations Recommendations

Adolescents who were not previously vaccinated should get two doses (with at least 28 days between doses); those who only received one dose previously should get the second dose. Complications from measles are more common among adults. All adults born in 1957 or later who have not been vaccinated or have not had measles should be vaccinated. CDC states that if you are not sure about your vaccination status, it is safe to get another measles vaccine. The only people who should not get vaccinated are those who are immune-compromised. Talk to a healthcare professional to find out if you should receive a vaccination.

  • Anyone born during or after 1957 who has not had measles should receive at least one dose of MMR vaccine
  • Two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended for adults at higher risk, including;
    • College students, trade school students, or other students beyond high school
    • Those who work in a healthcare setting
    • International travelers or those who are passengers on a cruise ship
    • Women of childbearing age

Learn more about measles and the vaccines to prevent it in adolescents at adolescentvaccination.org and adults at adultvaccination.org.

Resources

A Look at Each Vaccine: MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) Vaccine

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP): Learn about measles, how the MMR vaccine is made, side effects, and who should get vaccinated

Adolescent Vaccination Recommendation: MMR

adolescentvaccination.org

AAP Urges Parents to Vaccinate Children to Protect Against Measles (1/23/15)

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Press Release

Frequently Asked Questions about Measles in the US

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Measles

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Patient handout

Measles and Prevention through Vaccination

Immunization Action Coalition (IAC): Immunization materials for patients and healthcare professionals on measles

Measles Information for Healthcare Professionals

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Measles: Questions and Answers

Immunize Action Coalition (IAC): Information about the causes, signs, symptoms, and complications of measles and information about the MMR vaccine

Measles Vaccination: Who Needs It?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Measles Vaccines Questions & Answers

Immunization Action Coalition (IAC)

Understanding MMR Vaccine Safety

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Frequently asked questions