Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 17 measles outbreaks and 349 individual cases of measles across 26 states. So far this year, from January 1st to April 4th, the CDC has reported 465 individual measles cases. Increasingly, we’re hearing about various outbreaks in communities around the country when we turn on the news. You might be asking, “wasn’t measles eradicated?”
Indeed, the CDC declared measles eliminated in the US in the year 2000. Today, outbreaks are happening because of declining vaccination rates. Measles still exists in countries around the world. It enters the U.S. when Americans travel and return home, or when foreigners visit the country. Without enough of the U.S. population vaccinated against measles, outbreaks are becoming more frequent.
There have been two outbreaks of measles in the state of Texas. If you’re a parent, now is the time to educate yourself, because children are the ones most at risk. Plano pediatric experts want to ensure every parent knows the risks involved with measles, as well as the risks of not vaccinating your children.
What Is Measles And How Serious Is It?
Measles is a highly contagious viral respiratory disease. Some cases of measles simply cause a blotchy rash, runny nose, and fever that clear up within days. In other cases, serious complications can occur that cause permanent damage. In young children, the risk is higher for developing a more severe case of measles, which can result in pneumonia, deafness, brain damage or death. Out of every ten children who get measles, three require hospitalization.
How Does It Spread?
The measles virus spreads similar to the way a common cold virus does, but it’s much more contagious. When an infected person sneezes, coughs or transfers their germs by touching hands, nine out of ten people who make contact with their germs will become infected with measles. The virus can even linger in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours. Because an infected person can spread measles before they’re even showing symptoms, it spreads even more viciously. Up to four days after a measles rash has cleared up, someone who had measles is still contagious and can transfer the virus.
Why Vaccinate Your Child Against Measles?
With a bacterial infection, antibiotics are administered and the infection clears up fairly quickly. With measles, there’s no cure or specific treatment. There’s also no way to tell whether there will be complications before an infection occurs.
Your best bet to keep your child safe against the serious complications that can arise from measles is to prevent it. The measles vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent measles in children and throughout their life. The vast majority of measles cases have been in children who are not vaccinated or have not completed their vaccinations. Not only is this proof that the vaccine does its job, but also it underlines the risk of not vaccinating.
Because the disease exists in foreign countries, children who are not vaccinated are at risk of contracting measles even if all of their peers are vaccinated. When foreigners travel to the U.S. or Americans leave and come back, the disease circulates, affecting only those who aren’t vaccinated.
The MMR Vaccine
The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine provides the most effective and enduring protection against all strains of measles. The CDC recommends children get one dose of the vaccine at twelve to fifteen months of age, which is 93% effective in preventing measles. At four to six years of age, they recommend that children get a second dose, which raises the efficacy to 97%.
Like any vaccine, there are side effects that can happen with the MMR vaccine. A very mild case of measles can even occur, which quickly clears up. Severe side effects only happen in 1 in 100,000 people. This is why pediatricians, along with the CDC, believe that the risk of contracting measles far outweighs any risks involved with the MMR vaccine.
Making Vaccination Easier
Choosing the right pediatrician for your family goes a long way in making health decisions and vaccination visits easier. Pediatric Associates of Dallas (P.A.D.) have locations in both Dallas and Plano. Our pediatricians and nursing staff make getting vaccines at the doctor’s office a little less scary.
Shots aren’t fun, but they play a huge role in keeping your kids healthy and safe. Read our tips for helping your child feel better about getting their shots when they come in for their appointment. At PAD, our children’s pediatric Plano & Dallas based medical professionals take the time to answer your questions to ensure you feel comfortable about vaccinating your kids.