Tag: early MMR

What Should You Do If Your Child Might Have Measles

As you hear more and more about measles outbreaks, eventually you might think that your child has measles.

Why?

Until a child develops the classic measles rash, the symptoms of measles can mimic many other more common viral illnesses, as they include fever, cough, coryza, red eyes, and irritability.

What Should You Do If Your Child Might Have Measles

And while many other viruses can cause a fever and rash, it is really only measles that causes the classic pattern of 3 or 4 days of high fever, followed by the appearance of a rash with continued fever.

Unfortunately, by the time your child has developed the rash, you may have already have gone to the doctor or ER a few times, exposing a lot of people to measles.

If your child has measles, don’t give it to anyone else.

That’s why it’s important to try and recognize measles as early as possible, so that you don’t expose anyone else and get them sick too.

It is especially important to think about measles if your child:

  • traveled out of the country in the past 7 to 21 days, the incubation period for measles
  • recently traveled to or lives in an area that is experiencing measles outbreaks
  • is not yet fully vaccinated, with two doses of MMR, keeping in mind that a small minority of people can get measles even if they are fully vaccinated

So what do you do if your child might have measles?

Ideally, you would call your health care provider, clinic, or emergency room ahead of time and let them know that you are concerned about measles. That allows them to take steps to minimize the risk that your child will expose others to measles.

While the child is isolated, health care professionals can then decide if it is necessary to do further testing for measles. If they do suspect measles, they may even call the local health department for further help.

If necessary, post-exposure prophylaxis might also be provided for the child’s contacts.

What if you aren’t sure if your child has measles? Put a mask on them anyway if there is any doubt! Don’t take a chance on causing a big outbreak.

During some outbreaks, communities have even had to implement universal masking of all patients and all family members to help get their outbreak under control.

And remember that the best way to stop these outbreaks is for everyone to get fully vaccinated on time and on schedule.

More on Measles Exposure Prevention Measures

Is the MMR Safe for 6-Month-Old Babies?

Most parents understand that the first dose of the MMR vaccine is routinely given to children when they are 12 to 15 months old, at least in the United States.

In some other countries, the first dose is routinely given as early as 8 to 9-months of age.

And in high-risk situations, the MMR can safely be given to infants as early as age 6-months.

Is the MMR Safe for 6 Month Old Babies?

An early MMR, is that safe?

This type of pure anti-vaccine propaganda is what caused the measles outbreaks in New York in the first place...
This type of pure anti-vaccine propaganda is what caused the measles outbreaks in New York in the first place…

Yes, it is safe.

What about the package insert?

“Local health authorities may recommend measles vaccination of infants between 6 to 12 months of age in outbreak situations. This population may fail to respond to the components of the vaccine. Safety and effectiveness of mumps and rubella vaccine in infants less than 12 months of age have not been established. The younger the infant, the lower the likelihood of seroconversion (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY). Such infants should receive a second dose of M-M-R II between 12 to 15 months of age followed by revaccination at elementary school entry.”

MMR II Package Insert

The package insert says to give infants who get an early dose another dose when they are 12 to 15 months old! It doesn’t say to not protect these babies!

But what about the idea that the safety and effectiveness of MMR hasn’t been proven for infants under 12 months of age?

In general, the package insert is only going to list studies that the manufacturer used to get FDA approval for their vaccine. Since it is an off-label recommendation of the ACIP, they would not include the studies that show that an early MMR is safe and effective.

“In conclusion, this study indicated that the MMR was well tolerated and immunogenic against measles, mumps and rubella with schedule of first dose both at 8 months and 12 months age. Our findings strongly supported that two doses of MMR can be introduced by replacing the first dose of MR in current EPI with MMR at 8 months age and the second dose at 18 months in China.”

He et al on Similar immunogenicity of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine administrated at 8 months versus 12 months age in children.

Before 8 months, an early MMR isn’t likely to be as effective as giving it later. That’s because some maternal antibodies might linger in a baby’s system and can interfere with the vaccine working, even after six months. How many antibodies and how much interference?

It’s almost impossible to tell for any one child, but the risk that this maternal protection has begun to wear off and these infants are at risk to develop measles is too great. That’s the reason that they get an early MMR, even though we know it won’t be as effective as a dose given later and we know it will have to be repeated.

Is this early dose safe?

“This review did not identify any major safety concerns. These findings may facilitate discussions about the risks and benefits of vaccinating infants who are potentially exposed to this life-threatening disease.”

Woo et al on Adverse Events After MMR or MMRV Vaccine in Infants Under Nine Months Old

Of course! Although the complications of measles can be serious, even deadly, we aren’t going to recommend something that is even worse.

“Early MMR vaccination is well tolerated, with the lowest AE frequencies found in infants aged 6-8 months. It is a safe intervention for protecting young infants against measles.”

van der Maas et al on Tolerability of Early Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Infants Aged 6-14 Months During a Measles Outbreak in The Netherlands in 2013-2014.

So an early MMR is safe, with few risks, and is likely effective at preventing measles.

And by now you know what’s not safe. That’s right, getting measles.

More on Early MMR Vaccines

How to Avoid Getting Caught up in a Measles Outbreak

By now, you have likely heard the news that we are on track for record-breaking numbers of measles cases this year, both in the United States and around the world.

You may also have heard that some of the folks getting caught up in these outbreaks weren’t actually anti-vaccine, but were people who thought they already had measles or thought they were already vaccinated and protected.

How to Avoid Getting Caught up in a Measles Outbreak

Are you and your family protected against measles?

Six ways to avoid measles.

You might be thinking, “of course we are, we get all of our vaccines!”

But you still might want to double check, keeping in mind that:

  • only people born before 1957 are thought to have natural immunity to measles, because measles was very common in the pre-vaccine era
  • the original measles vaccine that was used between 1963 and 1967 was not thought to be effective, so if that’s the only dose you had, it should be repeated
  • a recommendation for a second dose of MMR didn’t come until 1990, so many people born before that time have only had one dose, especially since there was never a catch-up program to make sure older people had two doses. Even now, adults don’t necessarily need two doses of MMR unless they are in a high-risk group (foreign travel, healthcare workers, living with someone who has a compromised immune system, people with HIV, and students).
  • children don’t routinely get their first dose of MMR until they are 12 to 15 months old (one dose is 93% effective at preventing measles), with a second dose at age 4 to 6 years (two doses are 97% effective)
  • a third dose of MMR isn’t typically recommended for measles protection

Still think you and your family are protected?

In addition to routine recommendations, to avoid measles in a more high risk setting (traveling out of the country or during an outbreak), you should:

  • get infants an early MMR, giving them their first dose any time between 6 and 11 months of age (repeating this dose at age 12 to 15 months)
  • get toddlers and preschoolers an early second dose of MMR, giving them their second dose at least 28 days after the routine first dose that they received when they were 12 to 15 months old, instead of waiting until they are 4 to 6 years
  • get older children and adults two doses of MMR if they haven’t already had both doses

What if your baby is exposed to measles before you have a chance to get him vaccinated?

Younger infants who are less than six months old can get a dose of immunoglobulin within 6 days if they are exposed to measles. Older infants, children, and adults can get a dose of MMR within 72 hours if they are not vaccinated and are exposed to someone with measles.

And the very best way to avoid measles is to keep up herd immunity levels of protection in our communities. If everyone is vaccinated and protected, then we won’t have outbreaks and our kids won’t get exposed to measles!

More on Avoiding Measles

Measles in Iceland

Have you ever played the game Plague Inc?

If you have, you know it is really hard to infect Iceland!

“An 11-month-old child was diagnosed with measles last weekend. The virus is thought to have entered into the country via a person that came to Iceland from the Philippines last February 14 on an Icelandair flight, the Directorate of Health has stated.”

Eleven Month Old Child Infected by Measles

Not so much in real life…

Measles in Iceland

With the rise of measles cases in so many places in the world, it appears that even Iceland isn’t immune to the virus.

All it takes is someone with measles getting on a plane:

“Since 2016, measles cases have repeatedly occurred on board aircraft passing through Iceland. The first such case occurred on board an Icelandair plane in August 2016 in a child in transit in Iceland on its way from Canada to England. One unvaccinated Icelander on the same plane became ill of measles.

In the spring of 2017, a nine-month-old child became ill after returning to Iceland from Thailand. The baby’s twin brother became ill of measles two weeks later in Iceland. The brothers were unvaccinated because of their young age. By the end of October 2017, an Icelandic resident who had been staying in Bangladesh became ill with mild symptoms after returning to Iceland. He had a history of adequate vaccination against measles and the antibody response was potent, leading to mild non-characteristic morbidity syndrome.

In May of this year, a case of measles was confirmed on board an Icelandair plane flying from Germany to Canada with a transit in Iceland and again, in July, in an individual travelling from England to the United States with WOW air, also transiting in Iceland. No Icelanders became infected in these airplanes.”

EPI-ICE. October 2018

Why aren’t even more cases of measles in Iceland?

Most folks in Iceland are vaccinated and protected!

They likely need to do a better job of getting kids an early MMR if they are going to be traveling out of the country though.

More on Measles in Iceland

Who Needs an MMR Vaccine?

The MMR vaccine protects people against measles, mumps, and rubella.

It has been available since 1971, first as a single dose, then with a second dose added to the immunization schedule in 1990.

Who Needs an MMR Vaccine?

With the rise in measles cases and outbreaks, you might be wondering if you need an extra dose of the MMR vaccine.

Are you fully vaccinated and protected against measles?

Have you had one dose or two doses of the MMR vaccine?

Are you traveling out of the country or do you have any other risk factors for getting measles?

Did you get one of the original, inactivated measles vaccines that were used between 1963 and 1967, before the live vaccine became available? If you did, or you aren’t sure which vaccine you got at that time, you likely aren’t fully protected and need another dose.

Vaccine preventable diseases are just a plane ride away.
Vaccine preventable diseases are just a plane ride away.

In general, adults who have had two doses of MMR are considered to be fully vaccinated. You do not need to check your titers and you do not need another dose for measles protection.

You are also likely protected if you were born before 1957, as most people had measles back then, in the pre-vaccine era.

Confusing matters a bit, some adults who were born before the recommendation to get a second dose might still be considered fully vaccinated if they are not high risk.

What makes someone high risk?

  • traveling out of the country!
  • working in healthcare
  • being a student in college or other post-high school educational institution
  • living with someone who has a compromised immune system
  • people with HIV infection

So to be considered fully vaccinated and protected against measles, these high risk adults should have two doses of MMR.

What about kids?

If following the immunization schedule, kids will get two doses of MMR, with the first dose at age 12-15 months and a second dose when they are 4-6 years old.

There are situations in which they should get an early dose of MMR though, including:

  • infants 6 through 11 months of age who are traveling out of the United States should receive one dose of MMR vaccine, a dose that will have to be repeated when they are 12 months old.
  • children 1 to 3 years of age and older who are traveling out of the United States should receive two doses of MMR vaccine (instead of waiting to get the second dose when they are 4-6 years old), separated by at least 28 days. This second dose doesn’t have to be repeated.

Being exposed to measles or simply getting caught up in an outbreak might be another reason for young children to get an early first or second dose of MMR and for adults to get caught up.

What if you aren’t traveling out of the country, but are traveling to an area inside the United States that is experiencing a large outbreak of measles?

To help control their large outbreak, kids in Rockland County should get their MMR doses early.
To help control their large outbreak, kids in Rockland County should get their MMR doses early.

If you can’t delay your travel plans, check the local health department recommendations, and talk to your pediatrician if your child needs an early MMR.

The MMR vaccine is safe, with few risks.

Having measles isn’t.

More on Getting the MMR Vaccine

Everything You Need to Know About the Measles Vaccine

The measles vaccine is one of the most effective vaccines we have.

It is also one of the safest, having very few serious side effects.

Everything You Need to Know About the Measles Vaccine

So why are some parents still afraid to allow their kids to get vaccinated and protected, putting them at risk to get measles, a life-threatening disease?

“Existing evidence on the safety and effectiveness of MMR vaccine supports current policies of mass immunisation aimed at global measles eradication and in order to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with mumps and rubella.”

Cochrane Systematic Review on Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children

Let’s see if you still are after we get all of your questions about the measles vaccine answered…

Schools in California were closed for at least two weeks in 1917 because of measles epidemics.
Schools in California were closed for at least two weeks in 1917 because of measles epidemics.
  1. How long has the measles vaccine been around? The very first measles vaccine was licensed by John Enders in 1963. An improved measles vaccine was developed by Maurice Hilleman and licensed in 1968, and that is the measles vaccine that we still use today, at least in the United States. It was combined into the MMR vaccine in 1971.
  2. How effective is the measles vaccine? A single dose of the measles vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing a measles infection. Two doses (the second dose was added to the routine immunization schedule in 1994) are up to 97% effective. That’s why almost all of the people who get measles in an outbreak are unvaccinated.
  3. How long does immunity from the measles vaccine last? Immunity from the measles vaccine is thought to be life-long. It is important to understand that the second dose isn’t a booster dose, but is instead for those few folks who don’t respond to the first dose.
  4. Who should get the measles vaccine? Everyone without a true medical contraindication should get the measles vaccine (MMR), with the first dose at 12-15 months and a second dose at 4-6 years.
  5. Can my kids get their measles vaccine early? An advanced immunization schedule is available for kids in an outbreak or if they will be traveling out of the country. The first dose can be given as early as age 6-months, but is repeated when the child is 12 months because of concerns of interference with maternal antibodies. The official second dose can be given early too, as early as 4 weeks after the first dose, as long as the child is at least 12 months old.
  6. Do I need a booster dose of the measles vaccine? People who are fully immunized do not need a booster dose of the MMR vaccine, but it is important to understand whether or not you are really fully immunized to see if you need a second dose. Some adults who are not high risk are considered fully vaccinated with only one dose, while others should have two doses. Are you at high risk to get measles? Do you travel, live in an area where there are measles outbreaks, go to college, or work as a health care professional?
  7. Should I check my measles titers? In general, it is not necessary to check your titers for measles. If you haven’t had two doses of the MMR vaccine, then get a second dose. If you have had two doses of the MMR vaccine, then you are considered protected. Keep in mind that there is no recommendation to get a third dose of MMR for measles protection, although it is sometimes recommended for mumps protection during a mumps outbreak.
  8. If my child gets a rash after getting his MMR, does that mean that he has measles? No. This is a common, very mild vaccine reaction and not a sign of measles.
  9. Can the measles vaccine cause seizures? The MMR vaccine can cause febrile seizures. It is important to remember that without other risk factors, kids who develop febrile seizures after a vaccine are at the same small risk for developing epilepsy as other kids. And know that vaccines aren’t the only cause of febrile seizures. Vaccine-preventable diseases can cause both febrile seizures and more serious non-febrile seizures.
  10. Why do people think that that the measles vaccine is associated with autism? It is well known that this idea originated with Andrew Wakefield, but the real question should be why do some people still think that vaccines are associated with autism after so much evidence has said that they aren’t?
  11. What are the risks of the measles vaccine? Like other vaccines, the MMR vaccine has mild risks or side effects, including fever, rash, and soreness at the injection site. Some more moderate reactions that can rarely occur include febrile seizures, joint pain, and a temporary low platelet count. More serious reactions are even rarer, but can include deafness, long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness, brain damage, and life-threatening allergic reactions.
  12. Why are there so many reports of measles vaccine deaths? There are extremely few deaths after vaccines. The reports of measles vaccine deaths you see on the Internet are just reports to VAERS and are not actually reports that have been proven to be caused by a vaccine. As with other vaccines, the risks from having a vaccine-preventable disease are much greater than the risks of the vaccine. The only reason that it might not seem like that now is because far fewer people get measles now than they did in the pre-vaccine era, when about 500 people died with measles each year.
  13. When did they take mercury out of the measles vaccine? Measles vaccines, including the MMR, have never, ever contained mercury or thimerosal.
  14. Why do we still have outbreaks if we have had a measles vaccine since 1963? In the United States, although the endemic spread of measles was declared eliminated in 2000, many cases are still imported from other countries. As measles cases increase around the world, that is translating to an increase in outbreaks here. Even though overall vaccination rates are good, because there are many pockets of susceptible people in areas that don’t vaccinate their kids, they get hit with outbreaks.
  15. Can we eradicate measles? Because measles is so contagious, the vaccine does have failures, and some folks still don’t get vaccinated, there is some doubt that we can eradicate measles without a better vaccine. That doesn’t mean that the current measles vaccines can’t prevent outbreaks though…

Are you ready to get your kids their MMR vaccine so that they are vaccinated and protected against measles, mumps, and rubella?

If not, what other questions do you have?

While you are thinking, here is a question for you – Do know why they used to call measles a harmless killer?

More on the Everything You Need to Know About the Measles Vaccine

Is January Usually a Big Measles Month?

This year is just getting started, but we already have reports of 86 92 94 measles cases in 7 states, and we haven’t even reached the end of January.

Is that a lot?

Well, let’s compare to previous years…

Is January Usually a Big Measles Month?

Classically, in the pre-vaccine era and in parts of the world that still have endemic measles, rates of this vaccine-preventable disease are highest:

  • during the late winter and early spring (temperate climates, like the United States)
  • after the rainy season (tropical climates)

In the post-vaccine era, measles season seemed to shift a little later, to the spring and early summer. In 1994, for example, when we had 963 cases of measles in the United States, 79% of those cases occurred between April and July.

January is not typically a big month for measles.
January is not typically a big month for measles.

Similarly, in 2011, we had only seen 15% of the year’s total measles cases by April 1. By August 1, that was up to about 70%.

We do see measles cases year round though, we just seem to see more of them in the spring and early summer months. Since most measles outbreaks in the United States are imported from other parts of the world, you might expect that we would see more cases when folks are traveling more and when there are big outbreaks in other parts of the world.

Unfortunately, measles is on the rise in many parts of the world right now.

And that is likely why we have already seen more cases this month than in the entire year of 2000 (86 cases), 2002 (44 cases), 2003 (55 cases), 2004 (37 cases), 2005 (66 cases), 2006 (66 cases), 2007 (55 cases), 2009 (71 cases), 2010 (61 cases), and 2016 (86 cases).

YearJanuary Measles CasesTotal Cases
19915969,643
1992492,200
199317312
19946963
199522309
19962508
20081140
20118220
20137187
201415667
2015108188
20188355
201994?

As you can see from the above table, January is not typically a big month for measles.

But what happened in 2015? There were a lot of measles cases in January, but we ended the year with only a moderate amount of cases.

That January spike was the California outbreak that had begun in December 2014. By February 2015, there were at least 125 cases, but fortunately no other large outbreaks the rest of the year.

Could that happen this year?

Could the ongoing outbreaks in New York and the Pacific Northwest stop and we then end up with only a moderate amount of cases?

Let’s hope so.

Let’s hope that having the second highest number of measles cases in January since 1991 ends up being the only record we set this year.

More on Measles Season