In the hustle and bustle that is life raising children, it can be hard to keep up with their regular annual well-checks and the recommended vaccination schedule. The pandemic has made it even more challenging to stay on track.
Adaora Stefania Uzodi, MD, MPH, pediatric infectious disease specialist with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health, says she’s worried about a possible measles outbreak due to significant decrease in childhood vaccination rates in 2020.
The History of Measles
Measles is highly contagious. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 90 percent of unvaccinated people exposed will get the infection, which can cause severe disease and death. Measles was a common childhood illness before the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine was developed in 1971, and in 2000, measles was declared eliminated by the CDC.
However, as vaccination rates have fallen, the number of measles cases has crept up in countries outside the U.S. Cases in the U.S. have remained low, and it is believed that COVID-19 restrictions helped curb that rise. But as those restrictions are relaxed and children resume unmasked in-person learning, we could see a future outbreak of measles cases.
A Safe, Effective Vaccine
Vaccination is the way to prevent such an outbreak, but many children are behind on their vaccines.
The MMR vaccine is one of the most effective vaccines available, providing 99 percent protection against measles when the recommended two doses are received, usually in childhood. In addition to its effectiveness, the MMR vaccine has decades of safety and effectiveness data.
This vaccine was a game changer in eliminating measles from the U.S., and doctors strongly recommend we have our kids vaccinated against the disease.
The CDC shares the top 4 things parents need to know about measles and recommends children should receive their first MMR dose at 12-15 months of age and the second dose at 4-6 years of age.
Multiple Vaccines at One Visit
It’s possible to take care of multiple vaccinations at one visit. Children can receive protection against multiple illnesses at the same time, including MMR, flu and the COVID-19 vaccine, which currently is available for everyone ages 5 and up.