The current measles cases that are in the United States have brought to the forefront concern about children who have not been vaccinated. Back in 2000 the CDC declared that measles had been eliminated from the United States. So why is it back?
Measles is still very common in many countries across the globe. With air travel being readily available and fairly affordable tourists come from all over the world to visit the U.S. Measles is so contagious that even if only one person has it, 90% of un-vaccinated persons who come into close contact will become infected. The disease is transmitted through coughing and sneezing. The virus can live for about 2 hours on surfaces. Air is recirculated in planes…people breathing and sharing the same germs. Surfaces such as door handles, counters, and railings are all common areas that each of us touch every day. When a person touches a contaminated area or is exposed to the germs in the air, they become infected by touching their eyes, noses or mouths. We don’t even think about it when we scratch an itch or wipe our eyes.
Here’s what we know about the measles vaccine:
- The vaccine is highly effective with a prevention rate around 93%. Two doses are approximately 97% effective.
- Boosters are not required as the two doses are considered protective for your lifetime.
- If you had measles you are now immune.
The measles vaccine came out in the 60’s so perhaps grandparents have had the disease but today’s parents have been spared. This has led some parents to feel that it is unnecessary to have their child immunized because this disease and other vaccine preventable diseases have disappeared. Obviously the current outbreak proves otherwise.
The most vulnerable in our society is at risk…including infants under 1 year of age and those who have serious health complications that prevent them from receiving the vaccine.
As a society we have a responsibility to make sure our kids get vaccinated so that the vulnerable are protected. Here at Pediatric Health Associates, our practice policy requires children to be vaccinated. We believe that for the health of all of our children we must ensure that children coming into the waiting room are not exposed to preventable diseases. As physicians and parents we believe it is in the best interest of our children and our community to protect them and every other child.
Hear from one mom whose child has serious health problems how an outbreak such as the current one affects her family: http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/why-measles-outbreaks-terrify-me/
We also encourage you to click on the next link for an article on vaccinations that Dr. Wall was interviewed for: http://www.buzzfeed.com/azeenghorayshi/meet-the-doctors-who-are-rejecting-unvaccinated-patients#.lmPaQyw5VD
If you aren’t sure about your child’s vaccine status or are traveling out of the U.S. before your child reaches age 4, please call us for an early booster.
For more information about measles: