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The measles virus is highly contagious and spreads easily. Spread by close personal

Protecting Children and Others During a Measles Outbreak

Dr. Marie GeorgePrint Story | Email Story

Once a common childhood disease, measles was almost an expected part of growing up. But it wasn't without consequence. Worldwide, up to 2.6 million people died annually from measles every year up until a vaccine was introduced in 1963.

In recent years, some parents have refused to vaccinate their children based on misinformation about side effects of the vaccine.  As a result, the number of unvaccinated children, teens and adults in our communities is on the rise. While those making the choice to not vaccinate believe they're making this decision solely on behalf of themselves or their children, they're actually impacting the health of others. Sometimes with deadly consequences.

How is it spread? Who is at risk?

The measles virus is highly contagious and spreads easily. Spread by close personal contact, coughing, or sneezing, the virus can remain active in the air or on a surface for up to two hours after it has been transmitted.

That means that any unvaccinated individual — including infants and those with compromised immune systems — can get sick when entering a space where an infected person was even hours before. Infected individuals can then go on to spread the illness days before they show any signs of the disease.

How to protect those at risk

Measles vaccines are by far the best possible protection you can give your child. Two doses are 97 percent effective and the potential side effects are rare and not nearly as scary as suggested by a lot of popular media. If they appear at all, side effects are usually a sore arm, a rash, or maybe a slight fever. Claims that the vaccine causes autism have been undeniably proven to be false.

As for when to get your child vaccinated, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend children receive the measles vaccine at age 12 to 15 months and again at 4 to 6 years old. Children can receive the second dose earlier as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.

How about adults?

Because the risk of death from measles is higher for adults than it is for children, teens and adults who have not been vaccinated should take steps to protect themselves. "The vaccine can be provided in two doses within 28 days of each other. This is particularly important for those planning travel overseas or to areas in the United States where outbreaks are occurring.

Those who have received only one measles vaccine as a child or who are in a high-risk setting—like health care facilities or communities with outbreaks—should get a second vaccine. If you are uncertain of your status, reach out to your healthcare provider for information and advice. Whether or not you have adequate immunity can be determined with a simple blood test.

Dr. Marie George is a specialist in Infectious Disease at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, Vt.





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SVMC ExpressCare Practice Welcomes Family Nurse Practitioner

BENNINGTON, Vt. — Southwestern Vermont Medical Center's ExpressCare in Bennington has welcomed family nurse practitioner Christine Burke. With this appointment, Burke also joins the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Medical Group.

Burke earned her master's degree in nursing from Simmons University in Massachusetts. She received her bachelor's in nursing from the University of Vermont and is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society. She is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Most recently, Burke worked as a registered nurse at Rutland Regional Medical Center Diagnostic Imaging and Infusion and at Castleton Family Health Center Urgent Care in Castleton, Vt. She also worked in the Emergency Department at Rutland Regional Medical Center.

Open seven days a week, including holidays, except Thanksgiving and Christmas, ExpressCare is a convenient walk-in medical office. No appointment is necessary. ExpressCare offers care for minor illnesses and injuries to patients of all ages. Patients may seek care at Suite 111 of the Medical Office Building at 140 Hospital Drive. For more information, call 802-440-4077.

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