The measles vaccine first came to be in the US in 1963. In present times, the 2-dose childhood regimen is followed and this has been in since 1989. By 2000, it was declared that measles have been successfully "eliminated" from the US. This led to many medical students and young practitioners quickly becoming unfamiliar with the disease, many never having seen a case of the virus. However, measles are back, and spreading throughout communities in the US. The current outbreak has affected over 460 people in 19 states, with the largest outbreaks in New York and New Jersey.
How did measles make a comeback?
The measles infection is brought in by travelers from abroad, and cases then spread within communities primarily where parents are neglecting or refusing to vaccinate their children. Measles is known to be extremely contagious and hence it only adds to the perils of quick outbreak.
Who is at high risk for getting measles?
• People who have never had measles and have never been vaccinated
• Babies younger than 1 year, since they are too young to be vaccinated
• People who were born after 1957 and were vaccinated before 1968
How long do symptoms last?
In most people, measles is a self-limited, benign albeit unpleasant disorder characterized by a flu-like syndrome (runny nose, cough, and red, light-sensitive eyes), fever, and the classic rash that begins on the head and spreads down the trunk, arms, and legs. Typically, it lasts no longer than 10 days.
What are the possible complications of measles?
For people possessing a healthy immune system, the recovery time against measles is within 7 to 10 days. However, some people can develop severe complications such as hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), pneumonia, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The mortality rate from measles is 3 out of every 1,000 people who get the disease.
Who is already immune?
You don’t need to get vaccinated if you meet any of these criteria:
• If the blood test confirms that the person is immune to measles, or
• You’ve received 2 full doses of the measles vaccine (usually as a component in the MMR vaccine), or
• You were born before 1957
How effective is the measles vaccine?
The vaccine is highly effective. In the US, it has been reported that people developing immunity to vaccine is between 97 and 99 percent.
How long will it take to become immune after getting the vaccine?
The vaccination for measles normally takes a few days to create what is known as the "protective effect" in the body.
Does the vaccine have side effects?
Side effects are uncommon. But the certain side effects that may bother people taking measles vaccine are mild discomfort at the point where the injection is shot, a transient rash, low-grade fever, joint aches or swollen lymph nodes. Rarely, a child may develop a febrile seizure (a convulsion caused by fever that is typically harmless). Very uncommonly (in about 1 person out of 25,000 to 40,000), there may be a temporary drop in the platelet count. These side effects pale in comparison to the risk of severe complications from the disease.