DICKSON CITY, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The U.S. is on track to have the largest number of measles cases since the disease was considered eradicated in the year 2000. Most people getting the measles were never vaccinated but that’s not always the case.
The CDC reports at least 626 confirmed cases of measles. Those infections have occurred in 22 states. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, some people who were vaccinated are finding out they’re still vulnerable to getting the measles.
“Do any more of mine have immunizations today?” As Commonwealth Health Pediatrician Emily Nebzydoski, MD went over a list of child patients who will receive vaccines, a startling fact has arisen from the nation’s measles outbreak. “Some of the people never got the booster between when they started doing the vaccine in the 1960s and to now,” she said.
That booster shot, or second dose of measles vaccine, gives you more protection. Dr. Nebzydoski explains, “You get the one you have like a 90 percent immunity. You get two it’s like 97 percent life-long.”
People born before 1957 likely had the measles and therefore are considered protected from getting the serious viral respiratory disease again. The vaccination program against measles didn’t start until 1963. While the vaccine improved in 1967, it wasn’t until 1991 when that second booster shot was recommended. This population lacking the added protection has a lot at stake. Dr. Nebzydoski said, “Adults tend to have worse outcomes than children.”
Adults with measles have a ten times greater risk of being hospitalized because they’re more likely to get pneumonia. They also represent a life-threatening risk to some other vulnerable individuals according to Dr. Nebzydoski. “If it is a grandparent and you know they do get the virus and they get ill they could, you know, expose their little grandbaby who can’t have the shot yet.”
If you’re in doubt about your number of measles vaccinations, Dr. Nebzydoski offers this advice. “Just for them to speak to their health care provider.”
The incubation period for measles is about ten to 12 days from when you’re first exposed to the virus. That means if you’re not immune, the vaccine can help if you get it right away.
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