US measles cases increase sharply in 2019


In 2019, there were more U.S. measles cases than in any of the last 25 years according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Dec. 5, CDC reported 1,276 cases of measles in 31 states, including Florida. This is the largest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 963 cases were reported in 1992.

Ten states reported measles outbreaks. Florida is not among them, but travelers may be exposed to carriers at home and abroad. According to Colorado’s Tri-County Health Department, three unvaccinated children may have exposed travelers in the Denver International Airport to measles on Dec. 11.

The CDC has guidelines to determine if residents are protected from measles. Health officials require written documentation (records) instead of relying on recollections from family members.

How to determine if you’re protected

Some residents need two doses of measles-containing vaccine to be considered protected from measles by the CDC: School-aged children (grades K-12); or adults who will be in a setting that poses a high risk for measles transmission, including students at post-secondary schools, healthcare personnel and international travelers.

One dose of measles-containing vaccine is needed for preschool-aged children and adults who will not be in a high-risk setting for measles transmission.

Anyone who has had measles (confirmed by a laboratory) or who is immune to measles (also confirmed by a laboratory), is considered protected from measles. And, those who were born before 1957 are considered protected.

That birth year is important because a “killed” measles vaccine was given to nearly 1 million people between 1963 and 1967. Without written records, people vaccinated in that time period may not know if they received the less effective killed measles vaccine. If written documentation of measles immunity is not available, CDC recommends getting a current measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. There is no harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine for those who may already be immune to measles (or mumps or rubella) according to CDC.

The St. Johns County Health Department offers childhood immunizations, but the only adult vaccine available at the department is Hepatitis-A. Ask your physician, urgent care facility or pharmacy if they offer the vaccine. Some insurance policies cover preventive care including adult immunizations, but check to be sure. Prices vary widely, so for those who self-pay, shop for the best option.

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