You may have seen the news cover outbreaks of measles, a contagious disease caused by a virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled a list of four important facts parents should know about measles.
- Measles can be serious. Common symptoms of measles include high fever, cough, runny nose, red/watery eyes, and rash. The most common measles complications are ear infection and diarrhea. However, measles can lead to serious health issues such as hospitalization, pneumonia, encephalitis (brain swelling), and death, especially in children younger than five years of age.
- Measles is very contagious. When a person infected with measles coughs or sneezes, measles can spread through the air. In fact, an infected person can spread measles even before knowing he or she has the disease—from four days before developing the measles rash through four days afterward.
- Your child can still get measles in the United States. Measles is still common in many parts of the world and is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers. In California in 2019, four outbreaks have been linked to patients with international travel, and 58 confirmed cases of measles have been reported as of July 10, 2019, according to the California Department of Public Health.
- The best protection against measles is the vaccine. The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is a safe and effective vaccination that provides long-lasting protection against measles. For the best protection, your child needs two doses of MMR vaccine:
- The first dose at 12 through 15 months of age
- The second dose at four through six years of age
Please see the CDC’s website and talk to your primary care provider to learn more about the measles vaccine. Most insurance plans cover the measles vaccine. Learn more about CalPERS’ health plans and benefits.