What Is Measles?
Measles is a type of highly contagious viral infection that is spread through contact via coughs, sneezes, saliva, or nasal secretions of people already infected. Measles typically starts out with a fever, cough, sneezing, rashes, and reddened eyes, but it is common for people to develop complications like pneumonia, brain inflammation, dangerously high fever, and scarred corneas.
For much of history, measles was a devastating illness responsible for killing millions. However, modern vaccination techniques have made measles fairly rare. Most modern outbreaks occur among unvaccinated communities, although there has been a recent outbreak in Oregon and Washington.
What Is the Measles Vaccine?
The measles vaccine is included as part of the MMR vaccine that also contains vaccinations against mumps and rubella. It is one of the most common vaccinations, and roughly 90 percent of the population in the United States has been vaccinated.
Following the vaccine, people may experience some mild side effects. These include pain or swelling at the injection site, fever, rash, headaches, mild joint pain, nausea, or diarrhea.
The Ideal Measles Vaccination Timeline
The measles vaccination is usually given in two doses. Doctors recommend that children get one dose somewhere between 12 to 15 months of age and a second dose somewhere between the ages of 4 to 6 years.
People who did not get one or both of the vaccines as a child can still get the vaccine as an adult. After getting two doses as a child or an adult, you do not need any more vaccinations. Unlike some other vaccines, the measles vaccine gives lifelong protection.
Effectiveness of the Measles Vaccine
Though fairly rare, it is possible for someone to get measles even after having the vaccine. Keep in mind, however, that your chances of even being exposed to it are very rare since the vaccination keeps the majority of people from ever developing measles.
Those who get one dose have a 7 percent chance of getting measles following exposure while those who get two doses only have a 3 percent chance of getting measles. However, people who get the virus after being vaccinated tend to have a far weaker version of the illness.
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