An increase in the number of measles cases has raised questions about not just the safety of children, but also adults. How do you know if you’re safe from the disease?
Age can definitely be a factor, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“If we see a substantial increase in the number of infections of measles, then there’s going to be a whole lot more people who are going to be wondering what their vaccine status is,” Dr. John Cullen, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told CNN.
The United States saw 555 cases of measles between Jan. 11 and April 11 this year — “the second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000,” the CDC says.
The CDC’s guidelines for vaccinations against the disease have changed over the decades. Here are some key points:
▪ Children should get two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, the CDC says. The first vaccine should be given when a child is between 12 and 15 months, and the second between the ages of 4 and 6. Two doses are roughly 97% effective at preventing the disease.
▪ The two-dose recommendation has been in place since 1989, the CDC says. Before that, people received one dose of the vaccine, which is roughly 93% effective at preventing the disease.
▪ People born before 1957 do not need to be vaccinated, because most have already had the disease, according to the CDC.
▪ The inactivated measles vaccine available between 1963 and 1967 was not effective, the CDC says. People who received a vaccine during that time “should be revaccinated.”
▪ People do not need to be vaccinated if they have evidence of immunity to the disease, including documentation of a previous vaccination, the CDC says.
▪ If you don’t have written documentation of immunity, the CDC recommends that you get the vaccine.
▪ If you’re not sure if you’ve had two doses of the vaccine, you can ask a doctor for a booster, NBC News reported. “There’s no harm in getting a booster shot at any time,” the news outlet said.
“Adults with measles are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, because they’re more likely to get pneumonia — one of the complications of the disease,” NBC News reported.