With the recent news about the spread of measles in 22 states, parents may be worried about how this virus could affect them and their little ones. It is important that parents have the facts about measles and about the options for preventing this disease so that they can make the best choices.
What Is Measles?
Measles is a viral disease that quickly spreads. The virus can be passed from person to person through the air, such as when one coughs or sneezes. Because people are contagious days before they notice any symptoms in themselves, measles can spread particularly quickly.
Why Is Measles Spreading Today?
While measles was once a typical childhood disease, today’s immunizations have made measles quite rare. In fact, most years see fewer than 100 cases in the United States. Sadly, misinformation about and fear over typical childhood immunizations has led to many parents withholding important immunizations from their children, which has led to an outbreak of measles infections in the U.S. Because larger percentages of people are unvaccinated today, measles is quickly spreading. It usually infects 90 percent of unvaccinated people.
How Can Measles Be Prevented?
Thankfully, there is a way for parents to ensure that their children do not get measles. The MMR vaccine is the best prevention because it is 97 percent effective against the virus. This vaccine is usually given at 12 months with a booster shot given around the time that children head to school. However, very young infants, as well as children who are unable to be vaccinated because of certain immune diseases, should stay far away from anyone who has measles.