Should I be worried about measles?
Having active cases of measles in our community is certainly concerning, but for most of us should not be a cause for alarm. Let’s take a look at some reassuring facts. We are fortunate to have a very effective vaccine against measles. According to the CDC, one dose of measles vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles for those exposed to the virus. Two doses are about 97% effective. While there is no 100% perfectly protective vaccine, those are pretty good odds. And if your child is a patient of ours, they are most likely protected. 93% of our two-year old patients are up-to-date on their MMR vaccine. This compares to a rate of 86.7% for Oregon (based on the most recent 2016 data for children ages 19-35 months). We work hard to make sure your children are immunized on schedule because we know how important these vaccines are. This simulator, from the University of Pittsburgh, shows the difference in how measles could spread in Portland with and without herd immunity.
What’s considered up-to-date? Except for unusual circumstances, such as an outbreak setting or international travel, the MMR vaccine is not given until 12 months of age. So for a child one to three years of age, one vaccine is considered up-to-date. The second dose of MMR can be given at age four or five. Anyone that age or older should have two doses of MMR vaccine. If you have a four or a five year old who has not had their second MMR vaccine, please call our office to schedule a booster. If you’re not sure, give us a call or you can check on our portal, My Kid’s Chart.
If you have chosen not to vaccinate your child against measles, some extra caution is necessary. If your child has symptoms of measles (fever, cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes, even without rash) please keep him or her at home. Call us so we can help you make appropriate decisions about where and how to get medical care. Be sure to tell any medical professional you are talking to that your child is not vaccinated so we can be on the alert. Measles is highly contagious and we do not want to expose anyone who could be vulnerable.
We are closely watching for developments and receiving updates from the local health department. Measles is a horrible, and potentially dangerous, illness. Hopefully, given good vaccination rates, we will not see many more cases of measles in the Portland area. We wish a complete recovery for those who currently have measles, and a safe and healthy summer for all!