A measles outbreak in Washington has reignited a conversation about vaccinating children. But what do adults need to know about preventing the contagious disease?
In short, vaccines are the best way to prevent spreading the measles, and even those not vaccinated as children are able to get the shots. There’s also no need for follow up immunizations, as the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is good for life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Measles is an extremely contagious illness caused by a virus that spreads through the air. It mainly infects children, causing a red spotted rash and fevers as high as 104 degrees, but it can also infect adults. There is no cure for measles.
Here’s what else you should know:
Do I need a booster vaccine?
No. People who received the two recommended doses of the measles vaccine as children are protected for life, according to the CDC.
How effective is the vaccine?
The measles two-dose vaccine is 97 percent effective against the virus, according to the CDC.
More: A quarter of all kindergartners in this county in Washington aren’t immunized. Now there’s a measles crisis
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I never received the measles vaccine as a child. Can I get one as an adult?
Yes. Adults who haven’t been vaccinated should get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine, the CDC recommends. Adults who are at high-risk for exposure, including college students and international travelers, are advised to get two doses.
More: Son defies mom, chooses to get vaccinated at 18: ‘God knows how I’m still alive’
Can I get measles even if I was vaccinated?
Yes, but it’s rare. Health officials estimate about three out of 100 people who get two doses of the vaccine will still get measles if exposed to the virus, health officials estimate.
I had measles. Do I need a vaccine?
No, if you were infected by measles, mumps, or rubella in the past, you are immune, according to the CDC. Most people born before 1957 are considered immune, because largely everyone was infected at that time, when vaccines were not available.
How contagious is it?
Measles is so contagious that 90 percent of unvaccinated people who come in contact with an infected person will get the virus. The virus can linger in the air for up to two hours after an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can spread four days before and after symptoms appear.
More: What to know about the measles outbreak, affecting over 50 in Washington anti-vaccination hot spot
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