Feb 03, 2015 1:00 AM

Author: Libby Mitchell

Measles is back in the United States. More than one hundred cases of the illness are now confirmed, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they are “very concerned” about the possibility of a large scale outbreak. President Obama has urged parents to vaccinate their children, not only to protect them, but to protect children who may be too young to get the vaccine, or those who cannot get it because they are immunocompromised.

What about adults though? Should they be rolling up their sleeves as well? “There are several groups of adults who should consider getting a measles, mumps, rubella shot,” says Sankar Swaminathan, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases for University of Utah Health. “First though, let’s look at who generally doesn’t need it: anyone born before 1957 since they are presumed to be immune, and those who have received at least one dose of the live MMR vaccine previously.”

“If you were among those who received the inactivated measles component, you need to be vaccinated with the current formulation,” Swaminathan says. “That’s likely if you were vaccinated between 1963 and 1967.” Your exposure likelihood could also be cause for recommending a second immunization. “Anyone working in a health care facility, attending college or other higher education, or is planning to travel internationally should make sure they are protected.”

There are some cases where the measles vaccine should be avoided. “Pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and those in a few other limited cases shouldn’t get the shot,” says Swaminathan. “It’s always a good idea to check with a doctor though.”

The bottom line? If you think you are at risk for the measles, find out if you should be immunized by consulting with your physician. Even if your kids are vaccinated, that does not give you herd immunity. “The more people who make sure they are protected against this disease, the sooner the spread will stop,” says Swaminathan. 

Libby Mitchell

Libby Mitchell is the Social Media Coordinator for University of Utah Health Care. Follow her on Twitter @UUHCLibby.


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