With the recent Measles outbreak spread across 30 states in the U.S., now is the perfect time to check and be sure that all of your children’s health immunizations are up-to-date. Even if your child isn’t deemed at a high risk for the disease, they can still be a carrier, which may endanger those in more vulnerable health populations (such as the elderly, infants who aren’t yet old enough to be vaccinated and those with compromised immune systems), so they should be immunized according to the guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
What are Measles?
Measles are a highly contagious, infectious disease that strikes mostly during childhood and causes red rashes to appear on the skin. The effects of measles in otherwise healthy individuals are usually short-term but can be accompanied by a variety of symptoms that can develop into more severe health issues.
Signs and Symptoms
If you’re concerned that your child has been exposed to the measles, watch them closely for these tell-tale symptoms of the disease:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- High fever
- Tiny, white spots inside the mouth
- A rash of red spots
- Increased fever
- Small, raised bumps
- Spots joined together
Red spots typically start on the face and emerge further down the body as the disease progresses.
In the most severe cases, measles can lead to ear infections, diarrhea and/or pneumonia and may become fatal.
For Parents and Guardians
If your child has measles, the best way to care for them is to give them plenty of fluids and encourage a lot of rest. Over-the-counter non-aspirin fever medications can also be used to alleviate symptoms and make the child more comfortable.
Of course, the best way to avoid having to treat a child with measles is to stay up-to-date with their vaccinations and prevent them from contracting the disease. Read on for more specifics about these recommended immunizations.
What are the MMR and MMRV vaccines?
The Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine offers a safe and effective protection against the disease. The recommended dosages of the vaccine should be administered first between the ages of 12 – 15 months, and the second vaccine should be given when the child is between four to six years of age.
The Measles Mumps Rubella Varicella (MMRV) vaccine is a combination of the MMR vaccine and the varicella vaccine. The varicella vaccine was created to protect children from getting chickenpox. The age guidelines for this combination vaccine are the same as the MMR, so parents and guardians should discuss with their doctor if they prefer this option to the MMR vaccine and then proceed with the recommended treatment they decide upon for their child.
Who should get MMR or MMRV vaccines?
Children between the ages of 12 months and six years (as stated above) should get either the MMR or MMRV vaccine. Alternately, students at post-high school education institutions, healthcare personnel, international travelers and those at an increased risk during an outbreak who do not already have presumptive evidence of immunity should also be vaccinated.
Would you like to schedule a vaccination with a doctor or get more information on immunizations for your family?
If your child (or anyone else in your family) is in need of a measles vaccine, Western Washington Medical Group Family Practice can help. Go to this page to request an appointment, or if it’s more convenient, visit a Walk-in Clinic near you. For more general health inquiries, complete the form on our Contact page.