We are writing to address the measles outbreak that is occurring in the US. Luckily, there have been relatively few cases in the state of Colorado so far, but due to the highly contagious nature of measles that could change very quickly. We believe in taking a proactive approach to helping to prevent an outbreak in our community through education. It is important to understand the severity of measles/possible complications from measles as well as the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine as you evaluate getting your student(s) and/or yourself vaccinated if you have not already done so.
It is also important to understand that if there are any cases of measles that occur at our school/neighboring schools that those that have not been vaccinated will be excluded from attending for a period of at least 3 weeks (possibly longer).
Measles and the Vaccine (Shot) to Prevent It
Who Needs It?
Does my child need this vaccine?
Children should get 2 doses of MMR vaccine:
- The first dose at 12 months through 15 months of age
- The second dose at 4 years through 6 years of age
These are the recommended ages. But children can get the second dose at any age, as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.
Before any international travel, infants 6 months through 11 months of age should have at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Children 12 months of age or older should have two doses separated by at least 28 days.
For additional details, consult the MMR Vaccine Information Statement and the Childhood Immunization Schedule.
As an adult, do I need this vaccine?
You do NOT need the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR) if:
- You had blood tests that show you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella.
- You are a man born before 1957.
- You are a woman born before 1957 who is sure she is not having more children, has already had rubella vaccine, or has had a positive rubella test.
- You already had two doses of MMR or one dose of MMR plus a second dose of measles vaccine.
- You already had one dose of MMR and are not at high risk of measles exposure.
You SHOULD get the measles vaccine if you are not among the categories listed above, and:
- You are a college student, trade school student, or other student beyond high school.
- You work in a hospital or other medical facility*.
- You travel internationally, or are a passenger on a cruise ship.
- You are a woman of childbearing age.
For additional details, consult the MMR Vaccine Information Statement and the Adult Immunization Schedule.
*Healthcare Personnel Vaccination Recommendations [1 page]
Printer friendly version [2 pages]
The best way to protect against measles is to get the measles-mumps-rubella shot (called the MMR shot). Doctors recommend that all children get the MMR shot.
Why should my child get the MMR shot?
The MMR shot:
- Protects your child from measles, a potentially serious disease (and also protects against mumps and rubella)
- Prevents your child from getting an uncomfortable rash and high fever from measles
- Keeps your child from missing school or childcare (and keeps you from missing work to care for your sick child)
Is the MMR shot safe?
Yes. The MMR shot is very safe, and it is effective at preventing measles (as well as mumps and rubella). Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. But most children who get the MMR shot have no side effects.The side effects that do occur are usually very mild, such as a fever or rash. More serious side effects are rare.
Is there a link between the MMR shot and autism?
No. Scientists in the United States and other countries have carefully studied the MMR shot. None has found a link between autism and the MMR shot.
What is measles?
Measles is a serious respiratory disease (in the lungs and breathing tubes) that causes a rash and fever. It is very contagious. In rare cases, it can be deadly.
What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles starts with a fever that can get very high. Some of the other symptoms that may occur are:
- Cough, runny nose, and red eyes
- Rash of tiny, red spots that start at the head and spread to the rest of the body
- Ear infection
Is it serious?
Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. From 2001-2013, 28% of children younger than 5 years old who had measles had to be treated in the hospital.
For some children, measles can lead to:
- Pneumonia (a serious lung infection)
- Lifelong brain damage
How does measles spread?
Measles spreads when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs, or sneezes. It is very contagious. You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, up to 2 hours after that person is gone. And you can catch measles from an infected person even before they have a measles rash. Almost everyone who has not had the MMR shot will get measles if they are exposed to the measles virus.
Where do measles cases in the United States come from?
Measles disease can come into this country when unvaccinated U.S. residents travel internationally or foreign visitors to the United States are exposed to measles in another country and travel into the United States. The risk of getting measles may be very high for unvaccinated U.S. residents who travel abroad. The reason for this high risk is because measles is common in other parts of the world, including countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Worldwide, about 20 million people get measles each year. When people with measles travel into the United States, they can spread the disease to unvaccinated people including children too young to be vaccinated.
How many measles cases are there in the United States each year?
In 2000, the United States declared that measles was eliminated. Measles elimination means that the disease is not constantly present in this country. Since 2000, the annual number of people reported to have measles ranged from a low of 37 people in 2004 to a high of 644 people in 2014. Most of these people got measles outside of the United States or after being exposed to someone who got measles while in another country. So far in 2015, we have seen many cases of measles that are part of a large, ongoing outbreak linked to an amusement park in California. See more up-to-date information on measles cases and outbreaks.
Where can I learn more about the MMR shot and my child?
To learn more about the MMR shot, talk to your child’s doctor, call 1-800-CDC-INFO, or visit CDC Vaccines for Parents site.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend all children receive their vaccines according to the recommended schedule.
Basic Measles facts highlighted in USA today help to illustrate some important points:
(USA today trivia about Measles)
Q: Why are some parents choosing not to vaccinate?
A: Many parents are concerned that vaccines can cause autism, a belief that originated with a now-discredited 1998 study, which has circulated on the Internet and has been promoted by some celebrities. The British journal that published the study, “The Lancet,” retracted it in 2010. British medical authorities found the author, Andrew Wakefield, guilty of serious misconduct and stripped him of the ability to practice medicine in 2010 after finding that he had accepted $675,000 from a lawyer who was hoping to sue vaccine makers.
Q: What does science say about vaccine safety?
A: Vaccines are extremely safe, says Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Fourteen scientific studies have found no link between measles vaccines and autism. Seven have found no link between autism and thimerosal, a preservative no longer used in childhood vaccines. And two studies have failed to find any link between autism and the number of vaccines a child gets.
Q: How has the controversy affected vaccination rates?
A: Nearly 40% of parents of toddlers have skipped or delayed a childhood vaccination, a 2010 study found. Measles vaccination rates vary greatly by state. Nearly 100% of kindergarten students in Mississippi have had both recommended doses of measles vaccine, but only 82% of Colorado children that age are fully vaccinated against measles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Etoile Hening, RN, BSN
Animas High School