As of June 13, there had been 1,044 confirmed cases of measles in the U.S. in 2019. Pennsylvania is one of 28 states dealing with an outbreak of the virus.
With the U.S. experiencing the worst measles outbreak since the disease was eliminated in 2000, it is important that adults consider whether they need a measles booster to preserve their immunity to the highly contagious virus.
Although people born before 1957 are presumed to be protected from measles, those born after should have received one or more doses of the measles vaccine. One dose of the current vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) is 93 percent effective. Two doses provide 97 percent immunity.
If you fall into one or more of the following categories, you should consider getting a measles booster:
1) You are at high risk of contracting measles.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the following groups at high risk of contracting measles and recommends they have evidence of receiving two doses of the MMR vaccine:
- Students at post-high school educational institutions
- Health care personnel
- International travelers
- People whom public health officials have determined as at risk of getting measles during an outbreak
2) You can’t remember if you were vaccinated for measles OR you can’t find your immunization records.
If you can’t remember if you were vaccinated for measles as a child, you should first try to locate your immunization records.
Unfortunately, tracking down childhood immunity records can be challenging—and nearly impossible—for adults.
Those unable to find evidence of receiving at least one dose of measles vaccine should speak to their doctor about what to do next. In some cases, you might be able to get a blood test to determine whether you are immune to measles.
3) You were born in the 1960s.
If you were born in the 1960s, you might have been immunized with an earlier version of the measles vaccine that is no longer considered effective. Administered from 1963 to 1967, this vaccine used a killed version of the measles virus that did not provide adequate immunity.
The CDC recommends those vaccinated with the killed measles vaccine in the 1960s be immunized with the MMR vaccine.
If you fall into any of the above categories and are unsure about your immunity to measles, you should try to locate your vaccination records and consider speaking with your doctor about a booster.
There is no harm in getting a measles booster. With measles outbreaks on the rise globally and in the U.S., it’s more important than ever to preserve your immunity and ensure your health is protected.