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Posted on: April 8, 2019

Measles Update: Are you protected?

Doctor putting bandage on patient's arm after immunization

The measles outbreak in Michigan this spring has ended. But, cases are occurring in multiple U.S. states and internationally. Everyone is encouraged to protect themselves from measles with vaccination. 

Measles is spread through the air by an infected person and is very contagious. A person with measles is contagious for four days before and four days after the rash appears. A person can be infected with measles just by being in the same air space as an infected person, even up to two hours after the infected person has left. Full vaccination provides almost 100 percent protection.

Who should get vaccinated?

Everyone is encouraged to check and update their measles vaccination. If you are already vaccinated with two doses, have a history of natural illness or lab-confirmed immunity, you are considered immune. See specific guidelines below, or in this PDF.

Measles vaccine guidelines

Vaccination

Washtenaw County Health Department can provide vaccine with no charge to individuals with Medicaid, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan insurance or who are uninsured or underinsured. Call the Health Department at 734-544-6700 to make an appointment. Please bring your insurance card. For others, fees may apply. If you have another form of private insurance, contact your healthcare provider first for the vaccine.

The MMR vaccine is also available through primary health care providers and at some local pharmacies.

About the vaccine

  • Having two doses of MMR vaccine at least 28 days apart is fully protective. Having only one dose of MMR vaccine is approximately 93 percent protective. 
  • If exposed, approximately 90 percent of people who have NOT been vaccinated or previously had measles will develop the disease.
  • The first dose of the vaccine is routinely given to children after their first birthday. The second dose is routinely given before kindergarten. However, if a child has been exposed to measles, you should consider an accelerated second dose (at least 28 days after the first dose).
  • Vaccination is not necessary if an individual has a prior history of measles illness. 
  • Individuals born before 1957 are assumed to have natural immunity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • If you do not have a record of two documented measles (MMR) vaccines, or if you are unsure if you have been vaccinated or have had measles in the past, contact your healthcare provider about getting vaccinated. The MMR vaccine is available through primary health care providers and at some local pharmacies. You can also contact the Washtenaw County Health Department at 734-544-6700.
  • You cannot get measles from the vaccine.

About measles

Measles (rubeola) is an extremely contagious disease caused by the measles virus. Measles can cause complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Measles can also cause miscarriages or premature delivery in pregnant women.

What are the symptoms of measles?

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Tiny white spots on the inner cheeks, gums, and roof of the mouth 2-3 days after symptoms begin
  • A rash that is red, raised, blotchy; usually starts on face, spreads to trunk, arms, and legs 3-5 days after symptoms begin

How long after exposure do symptoms begin?

Symptoms usually begin 7-14 days after exposure, but can appear as long as 21 days after exposure. If symptoms develop, do not visit your doctor, urgent care or emergency room unless you call ahead so they can take precautions to prevent exposure to other individuals.

How is measles spread?

Measles is easily spread by person-to-person direct contact and airborne spread of droplets from the nose, throat, and mouth through sneezing, coughing, and speaking. A person can be infected with measles just by being in a room with an infected person, even up to 2 hours after the infected person has left.

How long is a person contagious?

Measles can be spread 4 days before developing the rash through 4 days after the rash appears. Measles is highly contagious.

Reliable measles information

Washtenaw County Health Department
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