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Measles Vaccination: Who Needs It?

Vaccine

Measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine— a live, attenuated (weakened), combination vaccine that protects against all three viruses. It was first licensed in the combined form in 1971 and contains the safest and most effective forms of each vaccine. One dose of MMR vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus and two doses are about 97% effective.

It is made by taking the measles virus from the throat of an infected person and adapting it to grow in chick embryo cells in a laboratory. As the virus becomes better able to grow in the chick embryo cells, it becomes less able to grow in a child's skin or lungs. When this vaccine virus is given to a child it replicates only a little before it is eliminated from the body.

 

Who Needs It?

Children

Children should get 2 doses of MMR vaccine:

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

Children can get the second dose earlier, as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.

Students at post-high school educational institutions

Students at post-high school educational institutions without evidence of immunity against measles need two doses of MMR vaccine, with the second dose administered no earlier than 28 days after the first dose.

Adults

People who are born during or after 1957 who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.

International travelers

People 6 months of age or older who will be traveling internationally should be protected against measles. Before travelling internationally,

  • Infants 6 through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine.
  • Children 12 months of age or older should have documentation of two doses of MMR vaccine (the first dose of MMR vaccine should be administered at age 12 months or older; the second dose no earlier than 28 days after the first dose).
  • Teenagers and adults born during or after 1957 without evidence of immunity against measles should have documentation of two doses of MMR vaccine, with the second dose administered no earlier than 28 days after the first dose.

Healthcare personnel

Healthcare personnel should have documented evidence of immunity against measles, according to the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices [48 pages]. Healthcare personnel without evidence of immunity should get two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.

Evidence of Immunity

You are considered protected from measles if you have at least one of the following:

  • written documentation of adequate vaccination:
    • one or more doses of a measles-containing vaccine administered on or after the first birthday for preschool-age children and adults not at high risk
    • two doses of measles-containing vaccine for school-age children and adults at high risk, including college students, healthcare personnel, and international travelers
  • laboratory evidence of immunity
  • laboratory confirmation of measles
  • birth in the United States before 1957

Healthcare providers should not accept verbal reports of vaccination without written documentation as presumptive evidence of immunity. For additional details about evidence of immunity criteria, see Table 3 in Prevention of Measles, Rubella, Congenital Rubella Syndrome, and Mumps, 2013: Summary Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

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