In 2002, when measles were essentially declared eliminated in the U.S., scientists didn’t expect parents would begin to opt out of the MMH vaccinations for their children during the next 5 years. The vaccine is safe and effective, so who wouldn’t want their child protected from a painful and potentially fatal disease?
Turns out that there are American parents who fear vaccines and children who visit from other countries where the vaccine is not available, widely distributed or required for travel. Measles hasn’t been eliminated around the world and has reared its ugly head again the states.
So far, more than 90 people have been diagnosed in California and the disease has spread to 13 other states including Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington as well as Mexico.
According to public health officials, the current outbreak has been linked to 58 cases that began when an infected person from outside the United States visited Disneyland in Anaheim between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said a traveler could still easily bring in the disease from abroad.
"This is a wake-up call to make sure we keep measles from getting a foothold in our country," she said.
The measles vaccine is part of a grouping of vaccines known as MMH (measles, mumps and rubella.) These diseases spread from person to person through the air. They are highly contagious. You can easily catch them by being around someone who is already infected, but not showing symptoms.
The MMH vaccine can protect children (and adults) from all three of these diseases.
There are valid medical reasons why some people should not receive the vaccine that include:
· Anyone who has had life-threatening allergic reaction the antibiotic neomycin or any other component of the MMH vaccine.
· People who are sick at the time the vaccine is scheduled. They should wait till they recover before getting the vaccine.
· Pregnant women should not get the vaccine until after giving birth. Women should avoid getting pregnant for 4 weeks after vaccination with the MMR vaccine.
· People with compromised immune systems .You should tell your doctor if you have or are being treated for or with:
o A low platelet count
o Have received another vaccine within the past 4 weeks
o A transfusion or received other blood products.
The outbreak has renewed debate over the so-called anti-vaccination movement in which fears about potential side effects of vaccines, fueled by now-debunked theories suggesting a link to autism, have led a small minority of parents to refuse to allow their children to be inoculated.
Schuchat called it "frustrating" that some Americans had opted out of the vaccine for non-medical reasons, saying it was crucial that they be given good information about the safety and reliability of inoculations.
There is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within a few weeks. But in poor and malnourished children and people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia and even death.
The White House said on Friday that parents should be “listening to our public health officials,” who urge vaccinations against measles, as it emerged the disease has now infected more than 100 people in the U.S.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama thinks parents should ultimately make their own decision whether or not to vaccinate their children, Reuters reports, but added that the science clearly points to vaccinating.
“People should evaluate this for themselves with a bias toward good science and toward the advice of our public health professionals,” said Earnest.
Measles is preventable. We live in a country where the MMH vaccine is affordable and easy to get. We’re fortunate that way.
Children should get 2 doses of MMH vaccine. The first dose when they 12-15 months of age and the second dose 4-6 years of age. Some infants younger than 12 months can receive a dose if they are travelling outside the United States. Children between 1 and 12 years of age can get a "combination" vaccine called MMRV, which contains both MMR and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines.
If you have any concerns about the MMH vaccine, talk with your pediatrician or family doctor about its safety and effectiveness. If you received the MMH vaccine when you were a child, you might want to consider a booster shot.
Dan Whitcomb, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/30/us-usa-measles-disneyland-idUSKBN0L302120150130
Mandy Oaklander, http://time.com/3691079/measles-vaccinations-white-house/