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Measles Outbreaks Prompt Important Vaccine Reminder

By Dr. Douglas Mitchell, Norfolk Pediatrics

News of measles outbreaks across the country is driving home the importance of children being fully immunized against the extremely contagious illness that can cause rash, respiratory problems, fever, serious complications, and even death.

Local pediatricians from CHKD Medical Group are reaching out to parents of children who are overdue for vaccinations that protect children from measles, mumps, and rubella, known as the MMR vaccine. Two doses are recommended, one at 12 to 15 months of age and the other between 4 and 6 years of age. Learn more about the recommended immunization schedule here.

From January 1 through mid-February, there have been 127 cases of measles confirmed in 10 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. In 2018, there were 17 outbreaks, including three in New York State, New York City, and New Jersey. Cases in those areas occurred primarily among people who were unvaccinated.

A fraudulent study released in 1998 led some parents to believe that autism is linked to vaccines. That study has been discredited and retracted, but the mistaken belief has stalled vaccination rates. Numerous authentic studies since then have shown there is no link, and that unvaccinated children pose risks to themselves and the community around them.

Now is the time to make sure your child is fully vaccinated. Consider these facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.
  • When a person with measles sneezes or coughs, the virus can hang in the air for up to two hours.
  • Infected people can spread the virus four days before they have a rash or even know they have the disease.

Measles starts with a very high fever, followed by a red or brownish rash. Children will also experience cold-like symptoms before the rash appears, such as a cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Measles is a serious, potentially life-threatening disease that can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, blindness, and in some cases deafness.

It’s especially important to have your child vaccinated if they’ll be traveling abroad. Measles is still common in other parts of the world, especially Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. The disease spreads quickly in areas where people are not vaccinated, and children who are not vaccinated are at a higher risk of being infected.

Vaccines are covered by most insurance plans. If you don’t have insurance or your insurance plan doesn’t cover it, the Vaccines for Children Program may be able to help.

Please call your child’s pediatrician to see if your child is due for their MMR vaccine.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.