With a measles case in East Tennessee and the number of reported cases nationwide approaching levels not seen in 25 years, it’s time to brush up on measles.
It is a virus public health officials declared eliminated from the United States in 2000 and, despite the recent publicity about measles cases, it is still considered no longer endemic (constantly present), according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Here are six things to know about measles from the CDC:
1) The measles vaccine is effective. One dose of measles vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus. Two doses are about 97% effective.
2) That does mean about three out of 100 who get two doses of measles vaccine will still get measles if exposed to the virus. Experts aren’t sure why.
3) The two-shots during childhood is protection for life. No booster shot is needed for adults.
4) Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, about 3-4 million people got measles each year in the United States. And 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 developed encephalitides (brain swelling) from measles.
5) If you’re unsure whether you’re immune to measles, try to find your vaccination records. if that fails, a doctor could test your blood. That takes two doctor’s visits and costs some money. There is no harm in getting another dose of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.
6) The percentage of people nationally vaccinated against measles is 91.1%. The rate, however, varies by state and within states by county. Pockets of unvaccinated people can exist in states with high vaccination coverage.