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1327 Robeson St.
Fayetteville, NC 28305
(910) 486-5437
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341 S. McPherson Church Rd
Fayetteville, NC 28303
(910) 920-4428
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4469 S. Main St.
Hope Mills, NC 28348
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142 Paraclete Dr.
Raeford, NC 28376
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How to Protect Your Child Against Measles

In 2000, the CDC declared measles eliminated from the U.S., yet in 2019, more than 1300 cases were reported. Now measles is back in the spotlight, with a few cases linked to international travel and unvaccinated individuals. Nonetheless, parents may be concerned about their children contracting the disease, especially new parents and those who are pregnant. This blog highlights the important things you should know about measles and how to protect your child. 

What is Measles?

Measles is a highly contagious virus spread through the air when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. According to the CDC, 9 out of 10 people who are not vaccinated become infected. One out of every three children under the age of five who contract the disease is hospitalized. The virus can remain in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours and be transmitted to others who come into contact with the contaminated air or surfaces. Measles can easily spread to individuals who are not vaccinated or have not previously had the vaccination. Unvaccinated people are most at risk of measles. This is especially true for immunocompromised children under the age of five and unvaccinated pregnant women.

How Can I Protect My Child from Measles?

To protect kids, ensuring they have received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is essential. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, with the first dose between 12 and 15 months of age and the second between 4 and 6 years of age.

In addition to vaccination, it is essential to practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of measles. This includes washing hands frequently with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow, and avoiding close contact with individuals who are sick.

My Baby is Too Young for the Vaccine. What Should I Do?

In some situations, the first dose of the vaccine may be given as early as six months of age. For example, if you live in a community with an outbreak or if the baby is traveling to an area with a high risk of measles. However, this is typically only recommended in certain circumstances and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

The good news is that If a woman receives the MMR vaccine before becoming pregnant, the antibodies she develops can be passed on to her fetus and provide some protection against the disease during the first few months of life. However, the protection offered by these antibodies is not as strong or long-lasting as the protection provided by the MMR vaccine given directly to the child. Therefore, children must receive the MMR vaccine according to the recommended schedule to provide optimal protection. 

Another way to keep your unvaccinated baby safe is to limit a baby’s exposure to crowds, and people with a cold is also important. You should also disinfect surfaces and objects in your home regularly. Breastfeeding is also a great way to help provide immunity to babies. 

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Measles?

The signs and symptoms of measles usually appear about 10 to 14 days after a person is infected with the virus. The first symptoms typically include a high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. These symptoms are often followed by a rash that starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body. The rash typically lasts 5 to 6 days and may be accompanied by small, white spots inside the mouth. Other common symptoms of measles include fatigue, muscle aches, and a loss of appetite. The virus can sometimes lead to complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, or brain swelling. 

Pregnant and unvaccinated women cannot receive the vaccine until after delivery. This is because the MMR vaccine is a live but weakened virus. Doctors also recommend that women not become pregnant until at least one month after receiving the vaccine.

If you have questions about measles, call us to discuss them. Help your child stay healthy by bringing them in for their wellness visits at the recommended age and ensure they receive their vaccines on time. You can view the AAP’s recommended vaccination schedule here.