The measles vaccine is one of the most effective vaccines we have.
Everything You Need to Know About the Measles Vaccine
“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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- When did they take mercury out of the measles vaccine? Measles vaccines, including the MMR, have never, ever contained mercury or thimerosal.
- 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.
- 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
- VAXOPEDIA – What to Do If Your Child Is Exposed to Measles
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Are You Still Worried About the MMR Vaccine?
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Are Anti-Vaccine Folks Panicking over the Measles Outbreaks?
- VAXOPEDIA – Did the Measles Vaccine Have Only a Meager Effect on Deaths?
- VAXOPEDIA – Fact Checking an Anti-Vaccine Measles Outbreak Quiz
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Do We Only Worry About Measles?
- VAXOPEDIA – Fun and Games with Measles?
- VAXOPEDIA – When Was the Last Measles Death in the United States?
- VAXOPEDIA – Who Is at Risk If You Don’t Vaccinate Your Kids?
- VAXOPEDIA – Show Me the Vaccine Insert!
- Is the MMR vaccine safe?
- MMR vaccine—worries are not justified
- Andrew Wakefield’s many statements that MMR causes autism
- Cochrane Reports: Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children (Review)
- Cochrane meets controversy: Vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella
- Is the MMR Vaccine Safe?
- CDC – Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine Safety Studies
- Vaccine Safety Bibliography
- Questions about the safety of MMR vaccine
- Questions about the impact of MMR vaccination
- Comparing risks – Measles
- Questions about MMR vaccine
- MMR vaccine safety
- Measles: Questions and Answers
- Talking About Vaccines MMR
- Ask the Experts About MMR
- NHS – MMR vaccine side effects
- ECDC – Addressing misconceptions on measles vaccination
- CDC – Possible Side-effects from Vaccines
- CDC – Frequently Asked Questions about Measles in the U.S.
- CDC – Febrile Seizures Following Childhood Vaccinations, Including Influenza Vaccination
- Measles Information For Health Professionals
- Frequently Asked Questions about Measles
- Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children
- Top 20 Questions about Vaccination