Keeping you and your family healthy is one of your main priorities, but as more and more cases of measles pop up throughout the U.S., you might be feeling a little stressed. Here’s what you need to know about this disease so you can make informed decisions to keep your loved ones safe.
How Did We Eliminate Measles?
Researchers released the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine in 1968, which helped decrease the number of measles cases. However, in 1989, health organizations began recommending two doses of this vaccine to increase its effectiveness. This added dose provides a 97-percent immunity to measles. Due in large part to widespread vaccination, health officials labeled measles as “eliminated” from the U.S. in 2000.
Where Is Measles Coming From?
From January to mid-March in 2019 alone, more than 260 cases have been detected in 15 states, including Texas. You may be asking, “If measles was 'eliminated' in the U.S., then how are people catching it?” Popular travel destinations, including Europe, Asia, and the Pacific, have significant numbers of measles cases. When unvaccinated people travel to and from these locations, they risk becoming infected with the condition and bringing it back to the U.S., where they can spread it to other unvaccinated people.
As the U.S. sees a rise in people refusing vaccinations for personal reasons, measles can circulate more and more. This poses a risk to those who are not able to receive the vaccine, such as children younger than one year of age, cancer patients, and immunocompromised people.
How Can I Prevent Measles?
Getting the recommended two doses of the MMR vaccine is the most effective method of preventing measles. While there is still a small chance (3 percent) that you could catch measles, it will be much easier to overcome than if you didn’t receive the vaccine.
Adults who haven’t previously received the vaccine should get both doses, separated by at least 28 days. Children should receive their first dose between 12 to 15 months of age and the second between ages 4 and 6. Children are also able to get the MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella, varicella) vaccine, which also protects against chickenpox, in place of MMR if they are between 12 months and 12 years of age.
If you or your little ones haven’t received the MMR vaccine, schedule an appointment with your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician or pediatrician. Staying up to date on vaccines is an easy and effective way to maintain good health.
CDC | Measles History
CDC | Frequently Asked Questions about Measles in the U.S.
CDC | Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know