With the measles continuing to spread throughout the region, health officials are warning that some adults who received their shots decades ago may be in need of a booster.
Nationwide, there have been 555 confirmed cases of measles reported in 20 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marking the second worst year since the virus was eliminated in 2000.
CNBC reported that if someone born between 1967 and 1991 - when the vaccine was improved and a booster shot was introduced - has approximately a 90 percent chance of being protected. Those born after 1991 have a 97 percent chance of being protected against the measles, provided they’ve been vaccinated.
Those potentially traveling overseas have been advised to potentially get a booster shot for measles if they are taking a trip to a place known to have a measles outbreak. It is recommended to get the booster 10 to 14 days before potential travel. Those who have had two doses of the measles vaccine as a child is considered “protected for life” by the CDC.
The CDC defines “measles elimination” as the absence of continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more in a specific geographic area. Measles is no longer endemic in the United States. The virus has been deemed “eliminated” in the country since 2000.
Last month, UNICEF warned that “global cases of measles are surging to alarmingly high levels, led by 10 countries accounting for more than 74 percent of the total increase and several others that had previously been declared measles free.
“Globally, 98 countries reported more cases of measles in 2018 compared to 2017, eroding progress against this highly preventable, but potentially deadly disease.”
"This is a wakeup call. We have a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine against a highly contagious disease – a vaccine that has saved almost a million lives every year over the last two decades,” Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director, said. “These cases haven’t happened overnight. Just as the serious outbreaks we are seeing today took hold in 2018, lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow.”
According to UNICEF, measles is highly contagious, more so than Ebola, tuberculosis or influenza. The virus can be contracted by someone up to two hours after an infected person has left a room. It spreads through air and infects the respiratory tract, potentially killing malnourished children or babies too young to be vaccinated. Once infected, there is no specific treatment for measles, so vaccination is a life-saving tool for children.
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