Currently, the states of Washington, New York, and New Jersey are experiencing measles outbreaks. Even though measles was virtually eliminated in the United States in 2000, the disease is making a comeback. Parents should vaccinate their children to prevent measles for these five important reasons.
- Measles Is a Highly Contagious Disease
Measles is caused by a virus that thrives in the noses and throats of infected individuals. A fever, runny nose, coughing, and sneezing are common symptoms of measles. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the measles virus goes airborne and stays alive for up to two hours in the air.
Non-vaccinated people who come in contact with measles-contaminated air or surfaces are likely to become infected, too. In fact, 90 percent of non-vaccinated people close to a person with measles will become infected with the disease as well.
- Measles Is a Serious Disease
Many parents in the past viewed measles as a common, mild disease of childhood that only caused cold symptoms and a bad rash. However, measles can cause serious problems in some people. These problems can include:
- Ear infections
- Brain damage
Even years after a measles infection, people can develop a condition called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) from their exposure to the measles virus. SSPE can lead to physical deterioration and eventual death.
- Measles Is a Risk for Traveling Kids
If your children travel frequently, they’re at greater risk of acquiring measles. Airports and other public places are vectors for measles as people from all over the world can bring measles with them to the U.S. Countries experiencing active outbreaks of measles include:
- Democratic Republic of Congo
Experts say that in 2018, 82 people brought the measles virus into the U.S. from other nations.
- Measles Vaccinations Protect Vulnerable People
Your child may be robust enough to handle a measles infection. However, your non-vaccinated, measles-infected child can cause serious and life-threatening medical issues for children and adults who can’t receive any vaccines. People who can’t have vaccinations include:
- Highly allergic people
- Pregnant women
- Cancer patients and others with low immunity
- Tuberculosis patients
- Sick people receiving blood transfusions
- Sick and premature infants
Having your child vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine helps provide herd immunity to your community. You protect vulnerable babies, children, and adults from life-threatening complications of measles. If a member of your family or loved one was unable to get their own protection from measles wouldn’t you want your friends and neighbors to help protect him or her?
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccines Are Safe and Effective
The measles vaccine is administered as a shot along with vaccines for mumps and rubella. The eradication of measles in the U.S. in 2000 is a testament to the effectiveness and safety of measles vaccines.
In the majority of cases, side effects of the MMR vaccine may include a slight fever, soreness or swelling at the injection site, and slight swelling of the glands in the cheek or neck. More serious side effects are rare. Receiving the MMR shot is far safer than getting sick with measles in the vast majority of cases.
Your child should receive their first MMR dose between the ages of 12 and 15 months and the second dose between the ages of four and six years. In some cases, a third MMR vaccination is recommended when there are local mumps outbreaks.
If your infant child will travel outside of the U.S., they can be vaccinated as early as six months of age, but the MMR vaccine will only provide limited immunity. Remember to have your child get their normal two-dose vaccinations when you return from your travels to provide your child with long-term immunity from measles, mumps, and rubella.
Schedule your child’s or your own vaccinations by contacting Stellis Health today. We offer pediatric and adult vaccines, and our staff is happy to discuss the benefits and risks of vaccines with all parents.