We have been receiving a lot of questions about the recent nationwide outbreak of measles, especially among unvaccinated children. While the chances of your child being exposed to measles are still quite low, the current outbreak is a good reminder of the importance of keeping your children up to date on their recommended vaccinations, and it provides a good opportunity to bring your children up to date on their vaccinations if they are behind. Measles is extremely contagious. Nine out of ten unimmunized people exposed to measles, catch it. Complications from measles can be fatal.
As always, the best way to protect your child from the measles, just as with any vaccine-preventable disease, is to make sure he or she is up to date with his or her MMR vaccinations. Routinely, most children will receive two doses of the MMR vaccine to be considered fully protected: a first dose at 12-15 months of age, and a second dose at 4-5 years of age. Children older than this who have had no prior MMR vaccines should receive two doses of MMR at least four weeks apart to be considered protected.
The MMR vaccine is extremely safe, and any suspected connection to autism and other developmental disorders has been repeatedly and conclusively disproven. The most common side effect of the vaccine is a fever and rash, which occurs in about 5% of children, approximately 1-2 weeks after the first dose. This reaction, if present, is not dangerous and not contagious. The protection from the vaccine generally takes 1-2 weeks to develop. There are no separate shots available for measles alone. It has not been manufactured since 2008. If there is an epidemic, the recommendation will be that all 6 month olds and up receive the MMR vaccine. Those children will still require 2 more MMR shots after the age of 12 months. For more information regarding the MMR vaccine, please use this link to the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mmr.html As always, if you have any specific questions about the needs of your particular child, please contact our office.