Hi loves! This Tuesday the Florida Department of Health confirmed a case of measles in the Miami-Dade area. Officials are saying that an unvaccinated 8-year-old girl attending elementary school in west Miami-Dade started showing symptoms of the respiratory disease on June 6 and was then taken out of school. The Florida DOH confirmed the case on June 16. It is estimated that she has come in contact with over 100 people during this time frame. This virus is extremely contagious and potentially life threatening. It is important to educate ourselves on what we can do to protect ourselves and our children. So let’s get started!
How is measles transmitted? This virus is extremely contagious! If you aren’t vaccinated and come into contact with the virus, there is a 90% chance you will get measles. Measles is considered an airborne virus that you can catch from someone sneezing or coughing. This is very different and way more contagious than Ebola, which is contracted by direct contact with bodily fluids. The measles virus is extremely resilient and can live outside the body for two hours. People with the virus are contagious for four days before the rash appears and until four days after the rash shows up.
Why should I be worried about measles? Measles is a nasty virus! It causes extremely high fevers, horrible cough, conjunctivitis, and an awful rash. But more importantly is has very serious and sometimes deadly complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), deafness, and even death. Measles can be very dangerous for a pregnant woman. It can cause stillbirths, pre-mature labor, and low birth weight.
What vaccine protects my child against measles and when does he/she receive that vaccine? MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is given as a series of two shots. The first vaccine is given at 12-15 months of age. The second vaccine is given at 4 to 6 years old.
Does that mean if my child is under the age of 12 months they are not protected? Unfortunately, children under the age of 12 months are not protected against measles, mumps, or rubella.
If my child has received the first vaccine in the series (if he/she is over 12 months but not yet 4 yrs old) are they protected? The good news is that if your child has received the first shot of the series he/she has 95% protection against measles.
Can I ask my pediatrician to give the second shot of the series to ensure 100% protection against measles? We normally give the second vaccine at 4 years of age, but if it has been 28 days since giving the first MMR vaccine, you can safely give the second shot!
How do I ensure that my child is protected against measles? You should highly consider vaccinating your child against measles if you haven’t done so already. In medicine and as parents, we need to weigh the risks and benefits and come to the best decision for the emotional and physical health of our children. Please educate yourself, not only about the MMR vaccine, but about what it means if your child gets infected with measles.
I don’t want to give my child MMR, what other options do I have? Avoid areas where there is a measles outbreak, restrict travel and avoid crowded places (Disney World, sporting events, and concerts). Maintain a good line of communication with your school and keep informed on about measles in your area.
When we developed Forever Freckled, we wanted to create a resource for parents to get informed! Please write us with any questions you want to discuss! We are excited to help you with your journey. See you next Wednesday!