Protection available to guard against measles outbreak

An area health care provider is warning residents about the resurgence of measles in the United States — and recommending getting the vaccine that can guard against the virus.

As of March 21, 64 cases of measles had been reported across the U.S. in 17 states. Several have happened in the Midwest, including 28 cases in Illinois, three in Minnesota and one in Michigan, according to Wausau, Wis.-based Aspirus Health, which operates the Iron River hospital along with several facilities in the Upper Peninsula.

With this in mind, Aspirus Health in a news release urged parents and caregivers to be proactive in preventing the potential spread of measles, stating that vaccination remains the most effective measure to protect against measles and other preventable diseases.

“Keeping up with your shots is very, very important,” said Dr. Jason Chan, a pediatrician with Aspirus Health. “Getting your shots protects yourself, but it also protects others around you who can’t get the shots, including babies and women who are pregnant.”

Medical experts recommend the MMR vaccine, which is a vaccine that protects against three infectious diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. It is typically administered as a series of two doses during childhood, with the first dose given at about 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose between ages 4 and 6.

According to Aspirus, the MMR vaccine is 97% effective in protecting people from getting sick from the measles.

About 1 in 5 unvaccinated people in the U.S. who get measles are hospitalized, according to the CDC. In children, as many as 1 in 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in children.

Pregnant women who have not had the MMR vaccine have higher rates of premature birth and a higher risk for a low-birth-weight baby, Aspirus advises.

“This vaccine has been in use for decades and we know it is safe and exceedingly effective,” Chan said.

Aspirus Health encourages parents and caregivers to consult with their providers regarding vaccination schedules for their children and ensure they are adequately protected. Additionally, adults of any age who have not received two doses of MMR vaccine are candidates for the vaccine as well.

For more information about vaccine recommendations per age groups, contact your primary care provider. To learn more about measles and the MMR vaccine, the CDC’s website offers the “Top Things Parents Need To Know” at https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/parents-top4.html.


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