Measles, a disease that was declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, has made a huge comeback.
Measles is not a disease to be taken lightly. In many people, not just infants or the elderly, it can cause serious complications, even death. However, measles is almost entirely preventable with two doses of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine — a safe and highly effective vaccine.
There is NO LINK between the measles vaccine and autism.
There is a lot of misinformation regarding vaccinations that has caused some parents to choose not to vaccinate their children. Many think that there is a link between the measles vaccine and autism, which is false.
Although this theory (known as the Wakefield study) has been disproven many times over, many parents still believe it. However, a recent study by the Center for Disease Control supports the research that proves vaccines do not cause autism. In addition, a recently-published study of more than 600,000 children who were tracked for more than 10 years found no association between the measles vaccine and autism. Westchester Health has published a blog on this topic, which you can read here.
Who should get the MMR vaccine?
According to the CDC, the following people should get the MMR vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella:
- Students at post-high school educational institutions
- International travelers
- Healthcare personnel
- Women of childbearing age
Who should NOT get the MMR vaccine?
You should not get the MMR vaccine or wait until your healthcare provider gives consent if you:
- Have a severe, life-threatening allergy
- Are pregnant, or think you might be pregnant
- Have a weakened immune system
- Have a parent or sibling with a history of immune system problems
- Have ever had a condition that makes you bruise or bleed easily
- Have recently had a blood transfusion or received other blood products
- Have tuberculosis
- Have gotten any other vaccines in the past 4 weeks
- Are not feeling well
Are vaccinations safe? YES.
Before being approved, all vaccines administered in the U.S. must be tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA will not allow a vaccine to be given unless it has been proven to be safe and to actually work. This data is then reviewed again by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Family Physicians before a vaccine is officially permitted to be administered.
The FDA also monitors where and how vaccines are made. Laboratories manufacturing vaccines must be licensed and are regularly inspected. Plus, each vaccine lot is safety-tested.
Herd immunity helps everyone stay well.
When someone has been vaccinated against a disease, he/she is then immune to that disease and cannot infect others. This means that the more people who are vaccinated, the fewer opportunities there are for a disease to spread, and therefore the entire community surrounding that person is less likely to get the disease. This is known as herd immunity.
For up-to-date information about immunizations, we recommend these websites:
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Immunization
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Vaccines and Immunizations
- National Network for Immunization Information
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
To learn more:
The above information is part of a longer blog I wrote on the importance of vaccinating your child against the measles, which you can read here.