You Can Help Eradicate Measles
Vaccinations save lives
Few of us can forget the Measles outbreak last spring and the alarm and controversy it caused. Cases of Measles were reported in 30 states, including Massachusetts, which was alarming because Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.
Protect Kids Now
Although Measles is not currently widespread in southeastern Massachusetts, children returning to school provide an ideal opportunity for this highly contagious disease to reappear and spread rapidly if appropriate precautions are not taken.
Dr. Robert Caldas, Sr. Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Southcoast Health, was a family practice doctor for 23 years and says that the best way to avoid the disease is by getting vaccinated. The Measles vaccine is delivered in the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) shot when children are around 12 to 15 months old, and in a second dose around 4 to 6 years old.
What Is Measles?
Measles is caused by a virus. The earliest symptoms resemble those of a cold — a cough, runny nose, red eyes, headache and fever and sometimes ear infection or diarrhea. Unlike a cold, within several days the person will develop an itchy rash of small raised bumps that starts at the head and spreads downward. Most people can recover from the infection after about a week or so, but some may suffer complications, such as pneumonia or nerve damage that can lead to encephalitis (swelling of the lining of the brain), blindness, deafness or, in rare cases, death.
“Our providers are discussing vaccination with our patient population,” Dr. Caldas says. Unfortunately, physicians are facing some skepticism about the safety of vaccinations, largely because of a study that claimed they caused autism in children. That study was disproved because the data was incorrect, and the study participants were involved in a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers.
“It is a big battle to counter the perception that some people have,” Dr. Caldas continues. “But for decades the Measles vaccine has been shown to be safe.”
Protecting the Community
The Measles vaccine doesn’t just protect the individual receiving the shot, it reduces the chance that Measles will spread to others who cannot receive the vaccine for health reasons, such as young infants, the elderly, people with a compromised immune system or pregnant women.
“Ensuring proper vaccination is the best way to protect our loved ones of all ages and our entire community,” Dr. Caldas says. “There is no need for us to have to concern ourselves with such a health threat when prevention is so easy.”
If you have concerns about the safety of vaccines, talk with your healthcare provider. You can find a provider here.