Measles! Let’s Talk About It

Hi Loves! One of the most talked about topics in healthcare right now is the measles outbreak. There are now a confirmed 121 cases in 17 different states.  At this time last week, there were 102 cases in 14 different states. As you can see from the statics, the virus is spreading rapidly and it is important as parents to educate ourselves on what we can do to protect ourselves and our children.  Over the past week, I have asked you guys to let me know some questions you wanted answered.  I appreciate all the feedback and hope I get all your questions about measles answered. So let’s get started!

Why is it spreading so fast and how is it 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 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 topics or questions you want to discuss! We are excited to help you with your journey. See you next Wednesday!

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