The measles outbreak in Washington state has parents in our area concerned about the possible spread of the virus. Measles can be a dangerous illness. There’s no treatment for it, so taking steps to prevent it is key.
“The one, best way to protect your child from measles is to vaccinate,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw.
Currently, the recommended vaccination schedule for kids receiving the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine is to give the first dose at age 1 and the second dose between ages 4-6.
“If your child has had one dose of the MMR vaccine, we think they have 93-95 percent immunity within 10-14 days of getting that one shot. When your child gets their second dose, we estimate that their protection is 97-99 percent. So, every kid who is older than age 4 or 5 who’s been immunized has really good protection,” she says.
To protect babies under 1 year who are not yet vaccinated, be sure to:
- Avoid taking your baby to crowded public areas.
- Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer.
- Change your clothes when you come home, before you interact with your baby or touch any of your baby’s belongings.
In addition, anyone who lives with a baby younger than 1 year old should confirm that they’ve been immunized with the MMR vaccine, or have proven immunity.
“There is also a small protective effect in breastfeeding,” says Dr. Bradshaw. “If you’re an immunized mom and you have an infant who can’t be immunized, breastfeeding does offer your baby some protection.”
Symptoms of measles
Measles is a virus that starts out much like a cold, then progresses. Symptoms include:
- High fever
- Pink, goopy eyes
“Children and adults who contract measles develop a fine rash that starts at the hairline and spreads downward, Dr. Bradshaw says. “If you think you or your child may have those symptoms, please notify your medical care provider before you show up.”
Eugene Pediatrics and other doctor’s offices, emergency rooms and urgent care facilities have protocols in place to treat people who think they may have the measles. By calling first, the correct steps can be followed, so that you receive help without potentially infecting others.
FAQs about measles
Dr. Bradshaw has fielded many questions from moms and dads who are worried about measles and want to know how best to protect their children and themselves. Check out her answers.