Measles: Make Sure Your Child Is Fully Immunized
Measles is a highly contagious disease. It can be serious for young children. Protect your child by making sure he or she is up to date on vaccinations, including before traveling abroad.
Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. Measles starts with a fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles can be serious for young children. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death.
How Measles Spreads
Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.
People in the United States still get measles, but it's not very common. That's because most people in this country are protected against measles through vaccination. However, since measles is still common in parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa, measles is brought into the United States by people who get infected while they are abroad.
Your child's doctor may offer the MMRV vaccine, a combination vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox).
Protect Your Child – at Home and when Traveling – with Measles Vaccine
You can protect your child against measles with a combination vaccine that provides protection against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). The MMR vaccine is proven to be very safe and effective.
Protect Yourself against Measles
Some adults need measles vaccine too. For more information, see Measles Vaccination: Who Needs It?
Paying for Measles Vaccine
Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. But you may want to check with your health insurance provider before going to the doctor. Learn how to pay for vaccines.
If you don't have insurance or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, the Vaccines for Children Program may be able to help. This program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. To find out if your child is eligible, visit the VFC website or ask your child's doctor. You can also contact your state VFC coordinator.
Infographic: Protect your child from measles. Measles is still common in many parts of the world. Unvaccinated travelers who get measles in other countries continue to bring the disease into the United States. Give your child the best protection against measles with two doses of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine: 1st dose at 12-15 months, 2nd dose at 4-6 years. Traveling abroad with your child? Infants 6-11 months old need 1 dose of measles vaccine before traveling abroad. Children 12 months and older should receive 2 doses before travel. Check with your pediatrician before leaving on your trip to make sure your children are protected.
Going to the Philippines?
Before you leave for your trip, read this CDC Travel Notice about measles in the Philippines.
Measles in the U.S.
From January 1 to November 29, 2014, 610 people in the United States have been reported as having measles. This is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.
Measles Can Be Serious
- For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from the disease.
- In 2008, there were about 164,000 measles deaths worldwide—that equals 450 deaths every day or 18 deaths every hour.
- Serious complications from measles are more common in children younger than 5 years old and adults 20 years of age and older.
- Don't Let Measles Be Your Travel Souvenir
- To learn more about measles, MMR or MMRV vaccines, or other childhood vaccines, visit:
- Measles-related information for travelers
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccines: What You Need to Know (Vaccine Information Statement) (English or other languages)
- To learn more about the VFC program, see the Vaccines for Children Program Q&As
- The Measles and Rubella Initiative
- Información general sobre el sarampión
- Page last reviewed: June 16, 2014
- Page last updated: December 11, 2014
- Content source:
- National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Division of Viral Diseases
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs