Measles Outbreak FAQs from Allegro Pediatrics

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Jan 30

Allegro Pediatrics

Measles Outbreak FAQs from Allegro Pediatrics

by Allegro Pediatrics

Below you will find answers from our doctors to the most common questions we are hearing from patient families regarding the current measles outbreak in Washington State.

Q: Can my child be vaccinated before 12 months of age? Why not?

A: There is a closely-monitored measles outbreak in Clark County, WA, but currently there is no outbreak (defined as three or more cases) in the counties served by Allegro Pediatrics. Both our local health department and our group recommend routine MMR vaccination: the first dose at 12-15 months of age, and the second dose between ages 4 and 6 years. Although providers may recommend MMR for infants 6-12 months old before international travel, there are no recommendations to vaccinate early if traveling to Clark County.

Although there has been one case of measles identified in the Seattle and King County region, most people in our area have immunity to the measles through vaccination, so the risk to the general public is low. 

Q: How can I protect my child who can’t yet be vaccinated?

A: Make sure everyone in contact with your infant is fully immunized with MMR vaccine. In the United States, kids should get two doses of MMR: the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose between ages 4 and 6 years. Babies under 12 months whose moms are vaccinated pass protection to their fetus during pregnancy. Make sure everyone around the baby has documentation of measles vaccination or immunity to measles.

The measles vaccine is very effective. Adults born after 1956 should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine, unless they have other evidence of immunity. One dose of the MMR vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles. With two doses, effectiveness increases to 97%. High vaccination rates in a community can effectively prevent the spread of measles through “herd immunity.” Parents who were fully vaccinated as children do not need to get a booster. If it is unlikely you received vaccination, or you are uncertain, then consider contacting your primary healthcare provider about checking for immunity against measles.

Q: Can my child get their booster dose before age 4?

A: We recommend the routine MMR vaccine booster between ages 4 and 6 years old. At Allegro Pediatrics, we usually recommend this second dose at 4 years old. This aligns with current local public health and CDC recommendations.

Q: How can I check on my child’s MMR vaccine status?

A: You can check your child’s vaccine status by speaking with an Allegro nurse, or by sending a message through the patient portal. You may also be able to find this information through the state immunization registry online at WA.MyIR.net.

Q: I’m worried about sending my children to school with kids that may be unvaccinated. What steps do I need to take?

A: We encourage children and families to maintain their usual routines and activities, including going to school when healthy. As always, we strongly recommend that everyone routinely vaccinate, wash their hands, and maintain healthy eating and sleep habits as a way of caring for yourselves and others.

Q: What signs and symptoms of measles should I be watching for?

A: Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that causes fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes. It mainly spreads through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes.

  • Measles symptoms begin seven to 21 days after exposure. Measles is contagious from approximately four days before the rash appears through four days after the rash appears. People can spread measles before they have the characteristic measles rash.
  • Measles complications can include ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, and rarely, encephalitis (brain inflammation). Complications from measles can happen even in healthy people, but those at highest risk include: infants and children under 5 years, adults over 20 years, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems from drugs or underlying disease.

Q: What places should we avoid?

A: There is currently no recommendation to avoid areas in the Seattle and King County region. Most people in our area have immunity to the measles through vaccination, so the risk to the general public is low.

However, anyone at King County locations of potential exposure to measles around the times listed should: 

  • Find out if they have been vaccinated for measles or have had measles previously.
  • Call a health care provider promptly if they develop an illness with fever or illness with an unexplained rash between January 16 and February 6, 2019. To avoid possibly spreading measles to other patients, do not go to a clinic or hospital without calling first to tell them you want to be evaluated for measles.

The Washington State Department of Health webpage on the current measles outbreak has a comprehensive set of links to local health department pages detailing public locations and timeframes that may be associated with measles exposures in our region (including Oregon and Washington’s Clark County).

Q: Are there helpful resources you’d recommend?

A: Here are some useful links regarding the measles outbreak, including potential exposure locations with timeframes:

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