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Vaccines to Prevent Measles
Measles is a contagious disease that is caused by a virus. Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. It’s followed by a rash that spreads over the entire body. Measles virus is a highly contagious virus and spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. Measles can be prevented with vaccination.
Children should receive two doses of MMR:
MMRV vaccine is licensed for children 12 months to 12 years old and may be used in place of MMR vaccine if varicella vaccination is also needed. A health care provider can help decide which vaccine to use.
MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. MMR vaccine is the best way to protect children against measles and to prevent them from spreading the disease to others.
Anyone born during or after 1957, who has never had measles or has never been vaccinated, is at risk for measles. They should get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine. Two doses are recommended for adults at increased risk, such as students in college, trade school, and training programs, international travelers, and health care professionals.
If you are not sure if you are protected against measles, 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 MMR vaccine. Another option is to have a doctor test your blood to determine whether you are immune, but this is likely to cost more and will take two doctor’s visits. There is no harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine if you may already be immune to measles.
Women who are planning to become pregnant should make sure they are protected against measles before they get pregnant. Most women of childbearing age were vaccinated as children with the MMR vaccine, but they should confirm this with their doctor. If they need to get vaccinated for measles, they should avoid becoming pregnant until one month (28 days) after receiving the MMR vaccine.
Pregnant women who are not protected against measles should wait until after they have given birth to get MMR vaccine.
Last reviewed: March 2015
Measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus. Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. It’s followed by a rash that spreads over the entire body. It can lead to complications, such as ear infection, diarrhea, pneumonia, brain damage, and death.
The measles virus lives in the mucus in the nose and throat of an infected person. Measles virus is highly contagious virus and spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. Also, measles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected.
Anyone who is not immune from either previous measles infection or from vaccination can get measles. The majority of people who get measles in the United States are unvaccinated.
In 2000, the United States declared that measles was eliminated from this country. However, measles remains a common disease in many countries throughout the world, including Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Every year, travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the United States. Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the United States where groups of people are unvaccinated.