Some adults may need to be revaccinated as measles outbreak continues

The most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 555 cases of measles have been reported nationwide since the beginning of this year.

Public health officials are urging people to get vaccinated to slow the spread of the disease. Often, the focus is on children to get the vaccine, but health experts say some adults might need to get revaccinated.

If you were alive before 1957, you were likely alive during several measles epidemics and considered immune. But when people were vaccinated between 1963 and 1967, there were two versions.

“One is a live attenuated, or weakened, virus, which is similar to the vaccine that we have now. And the other one is what we called a killed virus vaccine,” said Dr. Allison Bartlett, an associate professor of pediatrics with University of Chicago Medicine.

If you got the first one, you are considered protected. But there’s a catch– one was not effective.

“Many folks who were born between 1963 and 1967 do not carry their laminated vaccine cards around with them and may not know which form they got,” Bartlett said.

Some of these people may have immunity. But with the increase in reported cases, you can’t be too careful.

“Efforts are being focused on every potential population where there’s an opportunity to improve our immunization rate,” Bartlett said.

The CDC especially recommends people over 6 months of age who are traveling internationally to be vaccinated against the disease. Adults should get two doses, with the second dose administered no earlier than 28 days after the first dose.

For others who are concerned about their status, they could get a blood test to determine if they are protected. However, it may be easier to get the vaccine without the test.

A local physician said anyone with concerns should consult their own provider.

“I would recommend for my patients, for other patients to discuss with their primary care doctors to see if they would benefit from another measles vaccination,” said Dr. Andrew Zhao, a family care physician with Mayo Clinic Health System.

Some people may find they may not be able to get vaccinated because of their risk for complications.

“If they have other conditions that can leave to their immune symptoms to be at greater risk for infections, then that would certainly recommend revisiting that topic with their doctors,” Zhao said.

For those who can, even just one round of the vaccine is considered to be 93% effective against measles. Two doses are considered to by 97% effective in preventing the disease.

Your health insurance plan may cover the cost of the vaccine, but you might want to check with your provider before going to the doctor. Stores like Walgreens offer it at about $100 per dose.

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