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Dr. Jennifer Caudle  is a Board Certified Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Rowan University in New Jersey. She frequently appears as a health expert on CNN, The Dr. Oz Show, HuffPostLive and CBS 3 Philadelphia News. You can find her at her offfical website HERE. 

Is the measles outbreak something you should be worried about? Well, it’s a serious illness once kept in check by vaccinations. However, a recent movement of anti-vaccination parents has meant that not every child is vaccinated against it. That may be one of the reasons for an uptick in measles in the last few years, including one this year that impacted visitors to Disneyland in California.

Dr. Caudle answers your questions about measles and what you can do to protect yourself.

At what age are children given the vaccine?

Typically, children get 1 dose of the vaccine at 12-15 months and the 2nd dose at 4-6 years.

What’s the truth to being born before a certain year in the 50’s that means you probably immune to measles?

Adults born before 1957 are generally considered immune to measles and mumps. All adults born in 1957 or later should have documentation of 1 or more doses of MMR vaccine, unless they are unable to receive the vaccine or laboratory evidence protection to each of the three diseases.

What is the big deal about measles? I had it back in the 50’s as a child along with chicken pox and mumps. I had whooping cough as an infant. My son had chicken pox as an infant. Infants 1-2 months are too young to be vaccinated.

Measles can be VERY serious! Measles can cause ear infections, pneumonia, deafness and even swelling of the brain (encephalitis). In some cases, measles can lead to death.

How can children be protected?

Vaccination is the best way to stay protected.

Are the routine vaccinations children receive enough to protect them from measles?

If children receive 2 doses of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) the vaccine is 97% effective.

My son who is 2 was not vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. They gave him DTap, but not MMR.

Is it the same?

DTap and MMR are not the same vaccines.

How will I know if I’m vaccinated? I’m 52. Are records easy to find on yourself?

If you are not able to find your vaccination records, your doctor may choose to do a blood test to see if you are immune, or your doctor may give you the vaccine . There is no problem if you receive it again.

Read on for some basic facts about the measles. 

What is Measles?

Measles is a very contagious disease and is caused by a virus.

What are the symptoms of measles?

Fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a rash that characteristically starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.

How serious is the measles?

Measles can be VERY serious! It can cause pneumonia, brain swelling (also known as encephalitis) and even death. Before the measles vaccine in 1963, 3-4 million people got measles every year in the US and 400-500 died.

How contagious is the measles?

Measles is highly contagious. It is spread through the air when someone who has the virus coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has the measles, 90% of people around that person will also become infected if they are not immune.

Why are we seeing cases of the measles now?

In the year 2000, measles was considered eradicated (no continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more). However, the CDC reports that from Jan 1-Feb 6 2015, 121 people from 17 states were reported to have the measles. We are seeing more cases of the measles in our communities because 1) measles is still very common in many parts of the world and 2) some people are unvaccinated. When travelers with measles bring the disease to the U.S.,  it can spread among people who are not vaccinated.

 How do we protect ourselves?

Get vaccinated! When 2 doses of the vaccine (MMR) are taken the vaccine is about 97% effective (cdc). This is the best way to protect you and your loved ones from measles. Typically, children get 1 dose of the vaccine at 12-15 months and the 2nd dose at 4-6 years. If your child is traveling overseas, they may need vaccination earlier.

If you are an adult and want to know if you have had the measles vaccine, its important to look for your vaccination records. If you can’t find these, speak with your doctor because a blood test could be ordered which will tell if you are protected. Your doctor may opt to give you the shot as well.

(Measles information: CDC.gov)

 

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