From Staff Reports
This is World Immunization Week (April 24-30), and with a recent outbreak of measles in West Tennessee, it’s an especially good time for people to make sure they’re up-to-date on their vaccinations.
Jamie Swift, director of infection prevention at Mountain States Health Alliance, said getting the vaccine for measles is an extremely effective and safe way to protect against one of the world’s most highly contagious diseases.
“Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need a vaccination,” she said. “There have been six cases so far in West Tennessee and the case count is expected to rise, so it’s important to be protected. It’s also important if you have children to check their vaccination status, too.”
Most people receive the measles vaccination as a child. People who have had the disease once are normally protected for life.
The Tennessee Department of Health advises the best protection against measles is the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. One dose protects about 19 of 20 people; two doses are even more effective.
People who are in doubt about their immunization history and were born in 1957 or later should have a conversation with their healthcare provider about the vaccine. Protecting yourself helps form a “measles barrier” to prevent the spread of illness to those who are most vulnerable, including those who are too young to be immunized or those with compromised immune systems. People are advised not to go to a hospital emergency room to get a measles vaccination; instead, that should be arranged with their healthcare provider or at a health department clinic.
Measles usually starts with a fever and a cough, runny nose and red eyes. A rash of tiny red spots then breaks out a few days after the fever, starting at the head and spreading to the rest of the body. This rash can last for a week; the cough can last for several days more. One in three patients will develop ear infections, diarrhea or pneumonia. In some instances measles can cause brain damage and death.
For more information on measles, getting vaccinated, and the situation in West Tennessee, visit the Tennessee Department of Health site at http://tn.gov/health/topic/