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Posted on 2. May 2019

What You Need to Know About Measles

Your Medicare Rights and Protections

By Abbie Cornett

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In 2000, measles was officially declared eradicated in the United States, meaning there was an absence of continuous transmission of the disease for more than 12 months. Flash forward to today, when more than 700 cases of measles have been confirmed and more than a thousand people have been quarantined. This makes 2019 the worst year for the disease since 1994. The majority of people (503, or 71 percent) who have contracted measles this year are not vaccinated against the disease. Another 11 percent have received one or more doses of measles-containing vaccine; however, two doses are needed for full immunity. The vaccination status of another 125 people is unknown.1 Those who were vaccinated and still acquired measles raises the question of when a person should receive a new dose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients who have immunodeficiencies and are receiving immune globulin (IG) therapy should not receive either inactivated or live vaccines while receiving IG therapy because of concerns about their effectiveness. Live vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), varicella (V), MMRV, live-attenuated influenza vaccine, zoster, yellow fever, Ty21a oral typhoid, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, smallpox and rotavirus2. Therefore, these patients are at risk of contracting measles from unvaccinated individuals and those who have not received full immunity from the disease with two doses of the preventive vaccine.

IG patients can help family and friends who may be asking if they should be revaccinated against measles by following these guidelines: Adults who were vaccinated decades ago may need a new dose depending on when they received their vaccination and their risk of exposure. According to CDC, people who were vaccinated prior to 1968 with an early version of the vaccine, which was made from an inactivated (killed) virus, should be revaccinated with at least one dose of the live-attenuated measles vaccine.3 For those who were vaccinated long ago and do not know whether they received the measles vaccine, it can be difficult to find old immunization records.4 In this case, it would be prudent to receive one dose of the current vaccine.

In addition, because of the risk of infection, CDC advises people who are not immunocompromised and who are living or traveling to areas where there is a current outbreak, are healthcare workers or are college students to check their vaccination records and consider getting a new dose.

References:

1   Branswell, H. Measles Case Count in the U.S. Tops 700 This Year, as Health Officials Urge Vaccinations. Stat News Health, April 29, 2019. Accessed at www.statnews.com/2019/04/29/measles-case-count-in-the-u-s-tops-700-this-year-as-health-officials-urge-vaccinations.

2   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine Recommendations and Guidelines of the ACIP: Altered Immunocompetence. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/general-recs/immunocompetence.html.

3   Aubrey, A. Measles Shots Aren't Just for Kids: Many Adults Could Use A Booster Too. National Public Radio, April 29, 2019. www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/04/29/716894110/measles-shots-arent-just-for-kids-many-adults-could-use-a-booster-too.

4   Steenhuysen, J. U.S. Measles Outbreak Raises Questions About Immunity in Adults. Reuters, April 29, 2019. Accessed at www.yahoo.com/news/u-measles-outbreak-raises-questions-immunity-adults-144506034--finance.html?bcmt=1.

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