The word “outbreak” is an alarming one, particularly in relation to measles, so it’s important to understand what it means, and what it means to you, before reacting. Let’s start with the facts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines an “outbreak” as “three or more linked cases.” As of December 29, 2018, the CDC reported one case of measles in Connecticut. As recently as February 3rd, Yale New Haven Health Hospital indicated that they were treating two patients with the measles. Last year, there were three reported cases in the State of Connecticut.
The number of 2018 measles cases, however, was well above the 2017 number. According to CDC experts, the volume of cases per year typically relates to the number of unvaccinated travelers who get the measles abroad and bring it back to the United States, and the spread of measles in communities in the US with pockets of unvaccinated people. (For example, as of January 23, 2019, there were 62 confirmed cases of measles in New York City in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn since October 2018.)
Your best defense against the measles is ensuring that you are protected from the measles – through the MMR vaccine or otherwise — and ensuring that those immediately around you are protected too. If you are not protected/vaccinated already, speak with your doctor about getting the vaccine. (RVNA offers the MMR vaccine. See details at bottom.)
Very few people who are vaccinated will get the measles if exposed to the virus, and those who do typically have much milder cases and are less likely to spread the disease to others.
Are YOU protected from the measles?
The CDC considers you protected from measles if you have written documentation or records showing at least one of the following:
- You received two doses of measles-containing vaccine, and you are:
- a school-aged child (grades K-12)
- an adult who will be in a setting that poses a high risk for measles transmission, including students at post-high school education institutions, healthcare personnel, and international travelers.
- You received one dose of measles-containing vaccine, and you are:
- a preschool-aged child
- an adult who will not be in a high-risk setting for measles transmission.
- A laboratory test confirmed that you had measles at some point in your life.
- A laboratory test confirmed that you are immune to measles.
- You were born before 1957.
If you do not have documentation and do not know if you are protected against the measles:
According to the CDC, if you’re unsure whether you’re immune to measles, you should first try to find your vaccination records or documentation of measles immunity. If you do not have written documentation of measles immunity, you should get vaccinated with measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. There is no harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine if you may already be immune to measles (or mumps or rubella).
An alternative option is to have a doctor test your blood to determine whether you’re immune. But this option is likely to cost more and will take two doctor’s visits, so may not be your preference.
Arm yourself with information:
While the news of a measles outbreak can be very frightening, your best defense is protection, vaccination, and information. To learn more about the measles and current activity, visit the CDC website.
* Note: RVNA offers the Measles vaccine by appointment with a doctor’s prescription. It takes approximately two weeks to build immunity after receiving the vaccine. Call 203-438-5555 to make an appointment.