Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued the following announcement on May 14.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment advises people who are traveling abroad, or to areas in the US with ongoing measles outbreaks, to ensure they are protected against this highly contagious illness. With measles outbreaks across the country, it's a good idea to check vaccination records to ensure protection.
"It's essential to know your vaccination or immunity status if you are planning to travel to areas where measles outbreaks have been reported," said Dr. Rachel Herlihy , state communicable disease epidemiologist. "Measles, once considered eliminated in the US, have made a comeback. As you make your plans for travel, ensure checking vaccination records is on your list. We encourage everyone, regardless of travel, to be up to date on all recommended vaccines. "
Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is available at doctor's offices and many retail pharmacies. People can check vaccinefinder.org to find a retail location. People who need help paying for vaccinations should contact their local public health department.
Children should get two doses of measles-containing vaccine (either MMR or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella [MMRV]), one at 12-15 months and a second at 4-6 years. While two doses of vaccine is highly effective in preventing disease, the measles virus is extremely contagious. Every year, in every community, 92-95 percent vaccination coverage with two doses of vaccine is needed to prevent outbreaks.
Infants 6-11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR prior to traveling abroad. One dose of MMR also may be considered for infants traveling to certain areas in the US with ongoing measles outbreaks.
Children traveling abroad or to an outbreak area who are over 12 months of age can get their second dose of MMR early (rather than wait until 4-6 years) as long as it has been four weeks since the previous dose.
Adults who received at least one dose of MMR on or after their first birthday should be protected against measles, but people in certain high-risk groups such as health care professionals, students at colleges and universities, and those who plan to travel internationally should have two doses or other evidence of measles immunity.
People ages 12 months and older who did not have evidence of measles immunity (defined as birth before 1957, a history of having measles in the past, or a blood test that shows immunity) should have two doses (at least one month apart) of MMR or MMRV prior to traveling abroad.
For people with compromised immune systems, all of whose family members and other contacts have 12 months of age or older they should receive two doses of MMR vaccine unless they have other evidence of measles immunity.
A previous measles vaccine, which was available from 1963 to 1967, was not as effective as the current measles vaccine, so people who were vaccinated prior to 1968 may need to be revaccinated with at least one dose of MMR.
People born before 1957 are likely to have had vaccine-preventable diseases during childhood and therefore are presumed to have protected against measles, mumps and rubella. However, people born before 1957 who belong to certain high-risk groups, including health care personnel, may need additional MMR vaccine or other proof of immunity.
If you're unsure if you're vaccinated or are immune to measles, you can get a blood test to find out. Talk to your health care provider about whether this is something you should do.
Measles symptoms and complications
The early symptoms of measles are fever; runny nose; cough; and red, watery eyes. Usually, one to four days after the early symptoms, a red rash appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. People with measles can spread the disease from four days before the rash appears until four days after it goes away.
If you are sick with these symptoms, contact health care provider as soon as possible. Call the doctor's office and tell them about your symptoms. To protect others, do not go inside a doctor's office, urgent care or hospital unless instructed by your doctor.
Measles is not a mild illness. It can be serious in all age groups, but it is common in children under age 5 and adults over age 20. Complications can include hospitalization and pneumonia. Encephalitis can occur in one of 1,000 cases, and death in 1-2 of 1,000 cases. Before the vaccine was widely available, 450-500 measles deaths occurred each year in the US
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