Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. The disease is spread through the air and can easily be contracted by being in the vicinity of an infected person who is coughing and sneezing.
Vaccination MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is a two-shot series, usually given during early childhood. A child should receive the first shot when he or she is between 12 to 15 months, and the second when he or she is between four to six years of age. One dose is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles, and two doses proves to be about 97 percent effective. Adults who were born before 1957 are generally considered immune to measles. Adults who were born in 1957 or after should have documentation of one or more doses of the MMR vaccine.
If you’re planning to travel internationally, let your child’s doctor know as soon as possible to make sure he or she is fully vaccinated. Ideally, you want to make sure your child is fully vaccinated at least two weeks before leaving the country. In cases where babies are younger than 12 months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an early dose of the MRR vaccine between six and 11 months. Then following the recommended schedule, another dose between 12 to 15 months, and the final dose at four to six years of age.
The MMR vaccine has a good safety record. Most children who get the vaccine do not experience any problems or side effects. In some cases, however, minor side effects may occur. These include pain where the shot was given, fever, mild rash, or swelling of the neck or cheek. In very rare cases, allergic reactions or seizures may occur.
Call your doctor right away if you think you or your child may have been exposed to measles, or if you or your child has a rash resembling measles. Because of the nature of the disease, your doctor may ask you to come in after hours to reduce the risk of exposing others to this highly contagious disease. If you have recently traveled within or outside of the U.S., make your doctor aware.
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