In recent news, we have seen an increase in Measles and the importance of getting vaccinated to protect you and your family, especially your children, against Measles. What exactly is Measles and what is this MMR vaccine I hear about so often? The MMR contains vaccine against three different diseases and each initial represents one of them – Measles, Mumps and Rubella.
The Center for Disease Control defines Measles, one of the components of the vaccine, as a virus that causes rash, cough, runny nose, eye irritation and fever. These symptoms are presented in many other illnesses as well the common cold. The important part to remember is that this virus can lead to pneumonia, ear infection, seizures, brain damage, and even death. Luckily, anyone born after 1956 should have received at least receive one measles vaccine in their lifetime. Mumps, another part of the vaccine, is generally characterized by fever, headache, swollen neck glands and decreased appetite. It can lead to meningitis and infection in the blood. Rubella, the final part of the vaccine, is characterized by respiratory illness, fever, and a rash. They are all highly contagious and can be easily spread from one person to another through air droplets from coughing, sneezing, or even talking. Thankfully, they are not as common in the United States anymore due to the vaccine, but cases can still occur, usually in people who have not been vaccinated.
The CDC recommends 2 doses of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and states that the efficacy of the vaccine to protect you against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella is an average of 95% with immunity that usually lasts a lifetime. If you are unsure of your vaccination status you can request a copy of your immunization record from your physician or from the Sampson County Health Department. Children are routinely vaccinated with the MMR vaccine at age 1 and 4 years. It is a required vaccine for entering schools, daycares, and jobs associated with health care.
There are some people that should not receive the vaccine. This includes pregnant women, cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy, radiation, or are immunocompromised from other treatments, people with HIV/AIDS, or people who have an allergy to the components of the MMR vaccine. The MMR is a live vaccine and shouldn’t be given to people who are ill with a fever greater than 101.5. It is very important that you ask your physician prior to receiving it.
As mentioned before, MMR is one of the required vaccines for children entering school. Other required vaccines are DTaP (Tetanus and Diptheria), Varicella (Chicken Pox), Polio, and Pneumoconjugate-13. It is very important to keep your children on the provided vaccination schedule given by their doctor. This will ensure that they are fully protected against life-threatening illnesses as well as keeping them up to date for when they enter school. The state has also recently made the meningococcal vaccine that protects us against meningitis a requirement for adolescents as well as a Tdap (Tetanus and Pertussis) vaccine. It is required for rising 7th graders to get these.
If you would like more information regarding these diseases or the MMR vaccine, please give us a call at the Sampson County Health Department at 910-592-1131 Ext. 4247. To schedule an appointment to get vaccinated, please call the Health Department at 910-592-1131, extensions 4001, 4960 or 4220.