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Measles - Are you protected?

Measles continues to spread across the U.S. Fortunately no cases have been reported in Wisconsin yet this year. But now is the time to be sure you are protected.

The MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine is a highly effective, safe vaccine.

  • Children should receive their first dose at 12-15 months of age and their second at 4-6 years of age.
  • Adults born in 1957 or later should have at least one dose of MMR.
  • Adults born before 1957 probably had measles disease and so are probably immune and do not need an MMR.
  • Traveling: If you are traveling outside the U.S., even to countries in Europe, you need more protection - children 6 months to 1 year of age should get an MMR. This is in addition to the doses they will need at 12-15 month and 4-6 years. Adults born in 1957 should have had 2 MMRs, at least 28 days apart.

For more information please visit: CDC Measles Vaccination

How is measles spread?

Measles is a very easy disease to spread. The virus lives in the nose and throat and is spread to others from coughing and sneezing. Also, measles virus can live for up to two hours on a surface or in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected.

Measles is so easily spread that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.

Infected people can spread measles to others from 4 days before they get a rash to 4 days after the rash develops.

How well does the MMR vaccine work?

Measles protection from the MMR vaccine is very strong. More than 95% of people develop lifelong immunity from one shot. Many of the 5% who do not develop immunity with MMR #1 do become immune with a second MMR. Approximately 98-99% of people with 2 MMRs are immune.

I don't have health insurance that covers vaccines? Where can I get an MMR?

Public Health Madison & Dane County can give MMR to children who have no insurance or have Badger Care. Adults can get MMR at Public Health if they have no insurance that covers vaccines. Call 266-4821 for an appointment.

How do I know if I or my child might have measles?

If you or your child has a rash and fever, call your clinic. Tell them if you have traveled or think you might have been exposed to measles. The clinic will tell you what to do next. It is important to call the clinic before going there.

For more information please visit: CDC Signs and Symptoms

How do I know how many MMRs I or my child has had?

You may call your clinic or you may look at your or your child's immunization record on WIR (Wisconsin Immunization Registry). If you are not registered to use WIR, call your clinic or 266-9691.

What will happen if there is a measles case in my child's school or daycare center?

Many schools and daycare centers are now working with Public Health to develop plans in case this happens. The school or daycare center would notify parents of students' potential exposure. Children and school staff who haven't received the recommended number of MMR vaccines will likely need to stay home for 2-3 weeks.

I was born before 1957 but don't think I had measles.

What should I do? Check with your clinic. You could have a blood test to see if you are immune or you can do the easier thing and get an MMR vaccine, to be sure.

I'm pregnant. How do I protect myself and my baby?

If you have had one or two doses of MMR vaccine, you are well protected from measles. Unfortunately, MMR vaccine cannot be given to pregnant women. Now would be a good time to check your immunization record and to talk with your clinic about measles.

If you would be exposed to a person with measles, it might be recommended that you receive immunoglobulin (IG) which is safe to use during pregnancy and which helps protect you from getting the disease.

Can animals get measles?

No. Measles is a disease of humans only.

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new directions for phmdc

Chronic disease, preventable injury and mental and emotional well-being have become critical concerns to the social and economic well-being of communities across the country. In response to changing community needs, Public Health Madison & Dane County is responding in kind, investing in what the CDC, the Institutes of Medicine, and major national funding organizations have endorsed as ways to move toward addressing the root causes of illness and disease. This monograph outlines the blend of existing public health functions with new capacity we are building to boost prevention and community well-being over time.