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Measles Outbreak: Protect Your Child with MMR Vaccine

Photo:Protect your child by making sure he or she is up to date on vaccinations, including before traveling abroad.In the United States, we are currently experiencing a large, multi-state outbreak of measles linked to an amusement park in California. Measles is a highly contagious disease. It can be serious for your young children. Protect your children by making sure they get MMR vaccine according to CDC's recommended schedule. 

The large, ongoing measles outbreak in the United States likely started with a traveler who got measles overseas and then visited the amusement park while he or she was contagious, spreading the disease to others. Measles is highly contagious and spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In fact, if one person has it, 9 out of 10 of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not immune (through measles vaccination or having had measles before).

Measles Can be Serious

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.

  • About 1 out of 4 people who get measles will be hospitalized.
  • 1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling (encephalitis), which may lead to brain damage.
  • 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care.

Additional Resources for Parents and Childcare Providers

See resources for parents and others who care for children, including childcare providers.

Mother and daughter

You Have the Power to Protect Your Children

Measles will continue to be brought into the United States by people who get infected while they are abroad. However, you can protect your children against the current and future outbreaks with on-time vaccination. According to CDC's recommended immunization schedule, children need 2 doses of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine for best protection:

  • The first dose at 12 through 15 months of age.
  • The second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.

Infants 6-11 months old need one dose of MMR vaccine before traveling abroad. Children 12 months and older should receive two doses, separated by at least 28 days, before travel.

MMR vaccine will provide your children with safe, effective, and long-lasting protection against all strains of measles.

Learn more about MMR vaccine.

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. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides vaccines for children who are uninsured, Medicaid-eligible, or American Indian/Alaska Native. 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: Measles isn't just a little rash. Provide your children with safe and long-lasting protection against measles by making sure they get the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine according to CDC's recommended immunization schedule.

Infographic depicts measles symptoms, including the serious health problems the disease can cause, but parents have the power to protect their children with MMR vaccine. View the full infographic >>

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Want to Know More About Measles?

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Click “Disease of the Week,” find measles, and take the quiz to test your knowledge! Available on iOS, Android and Windows 8 tablets