Vaccinated before 1968? You might need another one
By Bill Shope
Scioto Voice Writer
While there has not been a reported case of measles in the state of Ohio since 2014, there is an increasing unease across the country as the disease was verified in 774 cases across the United States by the conclusion of last week-that is the highest number reported since 1994 when 994 cases were confirmed. The outbreak is not limited to only the U.S.-in 2018, there was a 300% increase, globally, in cases reported. Though Ohio has not been directly affected, neighboring states such as Michigan, Kentucky and Indiana have reported cases. According to the American Center for Disease Control (CDC), 41 cases were reported last week in New York City alone, with most of those unvaccinated citizens people residing in two Orthodox Jewish communities, while most of the country’s outbreaks are taking place where parents have made the decision not to have their children vaccinated.
Recently, more than 200 students and staff members at two different Los Angeles, California universities were placed under quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus and cannot verify if they had been vaccinated,
It is estimated that one person with measles has the potential to directly infect 12 to 18 others. Measles is an airborne virus, transmitted by respiratory droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of an infected person, usually through coughing or sneezing.
A total of 23 states have reported cases of the outbreak, with the last one being Pennsylvania. While all 50 states require vaccinations to fight a number of diseases, parents or guardians may exercise their right not to do so on religious grounds, along with other exceptions. These laws are determined on a state by state basis.
The CDC recommends vaccinations take place in this country after a child has reached one year of age. Those shots usually come in a combination vaccine called MMR, with a second vaccination coming 5-6 years later. The initial vaccine usually is a dose administered along with one against mumps and another against rubella.
The history of measles vaccination began in 1953, during a measles outbreak in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. After the virus was identified, work on the vaccine began with it officially licensed in the United States 10 years later. In 1968, a new vaccine was developed and distributed with that particular medicine still the one used in most cases today. That particular vaccine, when administered twice to pre-school children, has been shown to be 97% effective in preventing measles.
Surprisingly, the number of infected adults is rising rapidly-so, with that, do adults need another vaccination? The CDC is on record as stating if you were vaccinated in the 1960s, probably not. However, there is a train of thought that says measles vaccinations in between 1963, when the vaccine was first introduced and 1968’s arrival of the improved vaccine may have not been as effective. Due to the recent surge in reported cases, many health officials are recommending if you were vaccinated in that 5 year window, an additional vaccination might be in order.
In any and every case, a physician should be consulted before any vaccination.
According to the CDC, “Measles is highly contagious and complications of the virus can cause pneumonia and swelling of the brain called encephalitis. The virus can be fatal in some cases. Measles is spread by direct contact with an infected person. The virus can live for up to two hours in an area where an infected person has been. A person can spread measles from four days before they develop the disease’s distinctive red rash to four days after the rash appears.”
Portsmouth City Health Commissioner, Chris Smith, underlined the importance of preventive vaccination. “It is one of the most important and best decisions you can make for your child,” Smith said. “A parent or guardian only needs to research a reputable site to see the benefits and that the vaccinations are, clearly, safe.”
If payment for a measles vaccination is an issue, the Vaccines For Children Program (VFC) may be able to assist. To find out if a child is eligible, visit the VFC website or ask your child’s doctor. You can also contact your state VFC coordinator.