For Release – May 3, 2019 – Tony Sellars, Office of Communications – (405) 271-5601
Oklahoma has not experienced any confirmed cases of measles in 2019, but with numerous cases in surrounding states and across the nation, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is encouraging families to review their immunization records, and plan ahead in case you need to get vaccinated before upcoming international travel.
Although measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, state public health agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported more than 700 confirmed cases in the United States since January 1, 2019. This is the greatest number since 1994, when 963 cases were reported. So far in 2019, there have been 13 outbreaks with cases in 22 states; 71% of cases were unvaccinated, and another 18% did not know their vaccination status. Almost 50% of the cases have been in children under 5 years of age.
Outbreaks have resulted from persons becoming infected while traveling to other countries where the measles virus is still commonly spread, and developing measles once they’ve returned to the United States. Approximately 90% of cases infected during international travel were either unvaccinated against measles, or did not know their status, but were eligible to be vaccinated based on their age.
MMR vaccine recommendations for persons traveling internationally:
Infants 6 months through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine four to six weeks prior to travel.
All U.S. residents over 12 months should receive two doses, with each dose separated by at least 28 days, unless you have evidence of immunity.
Evidence of immunity includes birth before 1957, laboratory evidence of immunity, or laboratory confirmation of disease due to measles.
Routine MMR vaccine recommendations:
: Children should receive 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine with the first dose at 12-15 months of age, and the second dose between 4 to 6 years.
: Adults should have at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Certain groups at high-risk need two doses of MMR, such as international travelers, health care workers, and college students. Adults born in the U.S. before 1957 are considered immune to measles from past exposures (they lived through several years of epidemic measles before development of the vaccine).
Note: Adults who were given measles vaccine before 1968 should be revaccinated with at least one dose of the current MMR vaccine. This is because they may have received a less-effective measles vaccine that was commonly used in the U.S. during that time.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles. Before the measles vaccine, about 3-4 million people in the United States were infected annually, 400-500 died from it, and another 1000 developed chronic disabilities from measles-related encephalitis. The most effective strategy to prevent an outbreak within a community is high coverage with the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. One dose of MMR vaccine is approximately 93% effective for measles and two doses of MMR vaccine is approximately 97% effective.
Measles is a serious respiratory disease that is highly contagious and can cause life-long complications and sometimes even lead to death. There is no treatment and no cure for measles and no way to predict how severe a case will be. Measles can be serious for any age group, but particularly in young children. A person who has measles can make other people sick up to four days before they develop the typical measles rash.
If you have questions about your risk for measles, or need the MMR vaccine, please contact your medical provider or your local county health department, or visit https://go.usa.gov/xmR3X