Measles is very contagious and can be serious. An unvaccinated child can get measles when traveling abroad or even in the U.S. Two doses of MMR vaccine provide the best protection against measles for your child.
You may be hearing a lot about measles lately. And all of this news on TV, social media, Internet, newspapers and magazines may leave you wondering what you as a parent really need to know about this disease. CDC has put together a list of the most important facts about measles for parents like you.
Some people think of measles as just a little rash and fever that clears up in a few days, but measles can cause serious health complications, especially in children younger than 5 years of age. There is no way to tell in advance the severity of the symptoms your child will experience.
Some of the more common measles symptoms include:
Related page: Measles Signs and Symptoms
Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 9 out of 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected. Your child can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left. An infected person can spread measles to others even before knowing he/she has the disease—from four days before developing the measles rash through four days afterward.
Related page: Transmission
Measles was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000 thanks to a highly effective vaccination program. Eliminated means that the disease is no longer constantly present in this country. However, measles is still common in many parts of the world. Each year around the world, an estimated 10 million people get measles, and about 110,000 of them die from it.
Even if your family does not travel internationally, you could come into contact with measles anywhere in your community. Every year, measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers (mostly Americans and sometimes foreign visitors) who get measles while they are in other countries. Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk.
Related page: Plan for Travel
The best protection against measles is measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. MMR vaccine provides long-lasting protection against all strains of measles.
Your child needs two doses of MMR vaccine for best protection:
If your family is traveling overseas, the vaccine recommendations are a little different: