Due to gaps in vaccination rates, measles is making a comeback in the US and around the world. Many parents are wondering whether their families are adequately protected against the disease. For the most part, the answer is yes.
Most adults born prior to 1957 are immune to measles, due to natural exposure. Anyone who received two doses of measles vaccine after 1968 probably has lifelong immunity to the virus.
Currently, most children are vaccinated with MMR (the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine) at age one and again at age three or four, prior to starting kindergarten. A single dose of MMR is generally more than 90% effective at preventing measles, and after two doses the efficacy approaches 100%.
Individuals who received the measles vaccine prior to 1968 may be at higher risk for contracting measles, as the killed vaccine used during this time period was not as effective as the current live-viral vaccine. People who received the earlier version of the vaccine should probably get their titer checked to confirm whether they are immune. Anyone who isn’t immune can easily get an MMR booster.
If your vaccination or immunization status is unclear, consider checking a measles titer. The blood test measures immunoglobulin levels to measles and determines if you’re adequately protected against the virus.
What about children under age one, who haven’t yet received the vaccine? For families with young children at high risk of measles exposure, the vaccine can safely be given as early as six months of age. However, two additional booster doses still need to be given after the first birthday.