Should adults get a Measles booster shot?

RENO, NV (KOLO) Life went on before the measles vaccine, but not for everyone.

Photo: CDC / Dr. Heinz F. Eichenwald (MGN)

“4,000,000 to 5,000,000 people a year were coming down with measles,” says Dr. Charles Krasner, an infectious disease specialist. “40,000 hospitalizations, 1,000 cases of encephalitis, where young children's brains were infected and they were permanently disabled. 500 people a year were dying of measles. So it was a very serious threat to children at that time,” he says.

So prevalent was the disease that people born before 1957 are considered immune to measles, as they were more than likely exposed to the virus.

Dr. Krasner says between 1963 and 1967, two measles vaccines were introduced. One contained the live measles virus, the other a dead measles virus.

The second vaccine, with the dead virus, did not take. It means about 1,000,000 people as adults may not be adequately immunized against measles.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends they get another measles vaccine.

“The safest and quickest thing to do is get an MMR at your local pharmacy,” says Dr. Kranser.

Vaccines given between 1967 and 1989 have a 93% protection rate against measles.

Since 1989, though children have been given 2 shots over the first five years of life, that has given them a 97% protection rate. And it is needed.

Measles is highly contagious and current outbreaks are not happening in under-developed or under-educated countries or communities. Besides the US, London, Paris, even Japan are dealing with measles outbreaks.

And that's where the second recommendation comes in. If you are planning on traveling out of the country, you might want to double check to see if you are adequately immunized against measles or if a booster is highly recommended.

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