Measles and the MMR Vaccine

From Disneyland in California, to a local daycare in the Northwest suburbs, the subject of measles and the MMR vaccine is unavoidable – online, in the newspaper and on the playground.

Most recently, Jimmy Kimmel stepped into the conversation by airing a “PSA” on his own show, “Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel!” with real doctors strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated, which sparked even more controversy and conversation from parents and doctors around the country.

The hype continues. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) declared back in 2000 that measles was eliminated, meaning the disease was no longer present in the US. As more and more parents opt out of the MMR vaccine due to fears of toxins, autism and vaccine injury, we are now faced with several recent measles outbreaks resulting in 170 confirmed cases in the US as of February 27,2015.

Measles is back. And it is highly contagious and especially dangerous for not only those who choose to not be vaccinated, but those who cannot yet be vaccinated.(babies, very young children who fighting other diseases and the elderly) Symptoms include:

Measles is more than a rash. It can be very serious. One in four who contract measles will be hospitalized. One out of every 1,000 will develop encephalitis (brain swelling) from infection and one to two of every 1,000 will die, even with care. Sure, it seems easy to avoid those who have a fever or a rash, but measles is contagious before the rash appears and four days after the rash disappears. It is airborne, meaning if an infected person coughs or sneezes in a room, 90% of the people will become infected if they are not protected. What’s worse is that the virus stays active in the air for up to 2 hours after the infected person has left the room!

Many parents are relying on ‘herd immunity’ to keep their own children safe. However, we are living in a global community. Each year unvaccinated travellers from around the world bring measles into the US. Despite the seemingly low numbers here, measles is still very common worldwide, with over 20 million cases per year and 146,000 deaths.

It’s never too late to be protected. The best protection is the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The CDC recommends the following: 

If your family is traveling overseas, the vaccine recommendations are a little different. Please contact our office for the alternative schedule. As always if you have any questions regarding the measles, think you have become infected, or have questions about the vaccine, please contact our office.