Disease and Population-specific Immunizations

Measles Vaccine

Current Immunizations Schedules

Access recommendations for the routine use of vaccines in children, adolescents, and adults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that cases of measles in the United States have increased from fewer than 200 cases reported in 2013 to 644 confirmed cases reported in 2014. This is the greatest number of reported cases in a calendar year since 2000, when measles elimination (i.e., the absence of continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more in a specific geographic area) was documented in the United States.

Between January 1 and February 20, 2015, 154 people from 17 states and Washington, D.C. were reported to have measles, related largely to an outbreak originating at Disneyland.

Statistics

  • Approximately 90% of susceptible individuals who are exposed to the measles virus will develop the disease.
  • Approximately 30% of patients who have measles develop one or more complications.
  • More than 95% of individuals who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to all 3 viruses (measles, mumps, and rubella).

Current Immunizations Schedules

Access recommendations for the routine use of vaccines in children, adolescents, and adults.

Talk to Your Patients About Vaccination

Parents turn to you as a trusted source for answers to their questions about vaccines and vaccine safety. Be prepared to talk with your patients and reassure them that the benefits of measles immunization outweigh any adverse effects associated with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Each year, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) collaborate to develop recommendations for the routine use of vaccines in children, adolescents, and adults in the United States.  Some parents may consider refusing or delaying vaccinations because they are concerned about the number of vaccines given in a child’s first two years of life. Encourage your patients to follow the recommended immunization schedules, which are based on the best available data and are designed to maximize benefit and minimize risk.

Safety of the MMR Vaccine

Parents cite concerns about fever, seizure, and autism as reasons for refusing the MMR vaccine. Reassure your patients that getting the MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles. Although some people may experience mild temporary adverse effects such as burning or stinging at the site of the shot, fever, or rash, it is important to emphasize that most people who get the vaccine have no problems with it. Severe adverse effects of the MMR vaccine — such as immunization-related seizures — are rare. For example, one study showed that the baseline risk of seizure after measles vaccination in children ages 12 to 15 months is only 0.04%.

You can address patients’ concerns about autism by emphasizing that there is no reputable scientific evidence of a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism. The single study that purported to show a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism has been discredited and retracted. If patients are concerned about vaccine ingredients, let them know that the MMR vaccine does not — and never did — contain the mercury-based preservative thimerosal.

Why the MMR Vaccine Is Important

  • Measles is highly contagious and spreads quickly. Approximately 90% of susceptible individuals who are exposed to the measles virus will develop the disease.
  • Most cases of measles in the United States are brought back and spread throughout communities by unvaccinated travelers returning from countries where measles is more common.
  • Approximately 30% of patients who have measles develop one or more complications. Common complications from measles include diarrhea, otitis media, and pneumonia, which is the most common cause of associated death.
  • Complications are more common among children younger than age 5 years and adults older than age 20 years.
  • Most cases of measles occur in individuals who have not received the MMR vaccine.
  • More than 95% of individuals who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to all 3 viruses (measles, mumps, and rubella). A second dose gives immunity to almost all individuals who did not respond to the first dose.
  • Providing the MMR vaccine to a critical portion of the population helps protect other members of the community who are not eligible for the vaccine—such as infants or immunocompromised individuals—because the spread of contagious disease is contained.