So, your kids’ vaccinations are all up to date—but are yours? With measles on a record-breaking rise in the US (more than 700 cases have been reported so far this year) according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it may be time for you to get a booster, too.
The measles virus can have serious consequences for those who are unprotected. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, red/watery eyes and a body rash. It can lead to pneumonia, diarrhea and ear infections, possible even brain damage or death in rare cases.
After measles was eradicated in the US just 19 years ago, it’s back in more than ⅓ of states with big outbreaks in New York and Washington. Most individuals affected are those who’ve never been vaccinated, but the CDC suspects that some older adults born between 1957 and the mid ’60s are also at risk.
According to the CDC, if you were born before 1957, odds are you had measles (plus mumps and rubella) naturally, as vaccines weren’t yet available. In other words, you most likely don’t need the vaccine now. But those who were vaccinated prior to 1968 with either the inactivated measles vaccine (aka killed) or an unknown type should be revaccinated with at least one dose of the live attenuated measles vaccine, as the type available in the early to mid ’60s was ineffective.
Today’s vaccine—the MMR—fortunately does work, and protects against measles, mumps and rubella. One dose is about 93 percent effective in preventing measles, while two doses boost that percentage to 97. If you have no evidence of immunity in the form of a record of vaccination, lab evidence of immunity or lab confirmation of the measles, talk to your doctor about getting the revaccinated. Reasons to wait include pregnancy or the possibility of pregnancy, a severe allergy, a family history of immune system problems, bleeding or bruising conditions and tuberculosis.
For more information, visit cdc.gov.