Published: Wed, May 01, 2019
Medical | By Mark Scott

Born before 1989? Experts say you may need a measles booster shot

Born before 1989? Experts say you may need a measles booster shot

The number of confirmed cases across the country is 704, up 78 over the last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. USA public health officials have blamed the current outbreak in part on rising rates of vaccine skepticism that have reduced measles immunity in certain communities.

"When that was examined further, it was discovered that, in the hurly burly of busy [medical] practice, the vaccine was not always handled optimally", Schaffner said.

Adults who have any doubt about their immunity should get another dose, Schaffner said: "It's safe".

Medical officer of health for Toi Te Ora Public Health Dr Phil Shoemack said of four of the sick were primary school-aged children while the other eight were young adults. Most of those cases have been unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities.

People born before January 1, 1969 are considered to be immune because measles used to be very common, and so this older age group does not need the measles immunisations. For many Americans, "the records that exist are the ones you or your parents were given when the vaccines were administered and the ones in the medical record of the doctor or clinic where the vaccines were given", according to the CDC, which recommends that people search among baby books, school records and previous employers that may have collected this information, such as the military. "After you've coughed, after you've sneezed, it floats in the air for up to a couple hours", Esper said.

But what about adults who don't remember if they got the shots?

"Some adults would have received an older vaccine that wasn't as effective, so those adults we'd say check your records", Heath said.

"This recommendation is meant to protect those who may have received killed measles vaccine, which was available in 1963-1967 and was not effective", the CDC states online. "If you don't have a record, you can go out and ask for another dose of MMR vaccine, that's usually the best thing to do".

Unicef's analysis estimated that 169 million children around the world missed out on the first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017 - an average of 21.1 million a year.

Health departments are now working to limit exposure there and offer free vaccines to boost the county's immunization rate.

"You build immunity, and when you're exposed to the virus you're able to fight the infection", Vivekanandan said. But because the virus is so contagious, communities need to have near-perfect levels of between 93 to 95 percent of the population vaccinated to protect against the disease. For anyone who's unsure, the CDC says you can simply roll up your sleeve for another dose or two. Talk to your doctor about any personal risks and discuss a vaccine schedule that may be right for you.

Additionally, officials confirmed that measles in Florida is rare - due to generally high vaccination rates - and that both confirmed cases had recently traveled internationally to Southeast Asia.

The measles virus is highly contagious and can cause blindness, deafness, brain damage or death.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, said she will request a hearing on the vaccine legislation in May or June.

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