The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a record number of measles cases and outbreaks have occurred in the United States. To get current updates please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 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.
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.
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.
One dose of MMR vaccine is approximately 93% effective at preventing measles; two doses are approximately 97% effective. Almost everyone who does not respond to the measles component of the first dose of MMR vaccine at age 12 months or older will respond to the second dose. Therefore, the second dose of MMR is administered to address primary vaccine failure.
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.