There’s a measles outbreak in my community. How can I protect myself and family?
MMR vaccine is the best protection against measles. Review your own and your family’s vaccine records for MMR and make sure all other immunizations are up to date. If there’s a measles outbreak in your community, talk to your health care provider for further information and recommendations.
What should I do as an adult during a measles outbreak?
Unless an adult has evidence of immunity (meaning they were born before 1957, have lab evidence of immunity to measles, or documentation of measles vaccination) he or she should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine unless the person is in a high-risk group. If an adult is at high risk, he or she should get two doses of MMR vaccine. Adults at high risk include healthcare workers, international travelers, college students, and others. Call your health care provider, or contact your local health department.
I’m pregnant and I plan on breastfeeding after I have my baby. Is it safe to get the MMR vaccine?
Pregnant women should not get the vaccine. You can get MMR vaccine any time after delivery. If you are susceptible to measles, mumps, or rubella, you can get MMR vaccine before hospital discharge, even if you get RhoGam during your hospital stay. Breastfeeding does not interfere with the response to MMR vaccine, and your baby will not be affected by the vaccine through your breast milk.
We have an 8-month-old and we have travel plans to an area where there is known outbreak. We will be leaving next week. Is it safe to travel?
Please talk to your health care provider first. If you are traveling to an area with a known outbreak, the MMR shot can be given to kids 6 through 11 months of age. The MMR given before your child’s first birthday does not count as part of the 2-dose series. Instead, repeat the dose when the child is 12 months of age (as long as 28 days have passed since the last dose). It’s best to get your shot a month in advance if you’re traveling. Your health care provider knows you and your family best and can make the best determination based on his/her assessment.
We are grandparents and traveling to an outbreak area to babysit our grandchildren. We can’t remember having the measles or the shot and we can’t find our records. What should we do?
Without a written record, it’s hard to know what type of vaccine you may have received. If you were born before 1957 you are considered immune. Acceptable evidence of measles immunity includes a positive titer for the antibody, birth before 1957, or written documentation of vaccination. A personal history of measles is not acceptable as proof of immunity. If your titer is not positive, you can have 1 dose of MMR.
My Doctor does not have MMR vaccine. Where can I get it?
Contact your local health agency for resources in your community.
I’m looking for the Measles only vaccine. I’ve called a couple clinics and they don’t have it. Where can I find this?
The manufacturer no longer produces single antigen measles, mumps, and/or rubella vaccines for the U.S. market. Only combined MMR is available.
If my school is determined to be a public exposure location, and I have no proof of immunity or vaccination, will I be excluded from work?
Yes. Public Health is requiring exclusion of students and staff without documented immunity to measles from only those schools identified as possible exposure sites. Students and staff excluded from those identified schools are also excluded from other schools, child care, and other congregate settings. Students and staff at schools where measles exposure did not occur are not impacted by exclusions.
How long would I have to provide proof of immunity or vaccination should my school be declared a public exposure site?
Our understanding is the if Public Health requires any exclusions, they would take effect immediately.
What is considered acceptable proof of immunity or vaccination?
Acceptable presumptive evidence of immunity against measles includes at least one of the following:
- Written documentation of adequate vaccination from a healthcare professional
- Laboratory evidence of immunity
- Laboratory confirmation of measles
- Birth before 1957
Where do I send my proof of immunity or vaccination?
Please send your proof, hard copy to our district office or via email, to:
- Kris Cobleigh, Human Resources Specialist for Employees A-H
- Carol Sasse, Human Resources Specialist for Employees I-Z
Should I get a Titer Immunity Test or a vaccine?
There are varying conditions that could influence your decision to get a titer or a vaccine. Contact your healthcare professional for advice.
If I am excluded from work, will I be able to use my sick leave to cover my absence?
No. Per Board Policy 6512 Infection Control Program, a staff member who cannot provide proof of immunity is not eligible to receive sick leave benefits because of the exclusion itself.
If I am excluded from work, will I be able to use my personal and/or vacation days to cover my absence?
What is measles?
Measles is caused by a virus and spreads very easily when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. It spreads so easily that someone who is not protected (either by being immunized or having had measles in the past) can get it if they walk into a room where someone with the disease has been in the past couple of hours.
How serious is measles?
Measles is a very serious disease. About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. One or two out of 1,000 die from measles complications. Measles can also cause a pregnant woman to miscarry or give birth prematurely. Complications from measles are very common among children younger than five and adults older than 20.
Measles spreads so easily that anyone who is exposed to it and is not immune (for example, someone who has not been vaccinated) will probably get the disease.
What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough, and a rash all over the body. People can spread measles before they show symptoms.
How soon do symptoms appear?
- 7 to 21 days after exposure: mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and sore throat.
- 2 to 4 days after symptoms begin: tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth.
- 3 to 5 days after symptoms begin: a red or reddish-brown raised rash that feels like sandpaper appears, usually beginning on the face. The rash rapidly spreads down the neck, upper arms, and chest. Later, it spreads over the back, abdomen, the rest of the arms, thighs, legs, and feet. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Symptoms usually last seven to 10 days.
What does measles look like?
Many people have never seen what measles looks like because vaccination has made cases fairly rare in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers photos that show what measles looks like.
How is measles treated?
There is no specific treatment for measles. The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine may prevent illness if given to unvaccinated kids over 12 months or adults within the first three days after being exposed to measles.
How is measles prevented?
Getting vaccinated is the best protection against measles. When more than 90 percent of people are vaccinated against measles, the disease slows down and doesn’t spread. This is called community (or herd) immunity.
Isn’t measles rare in the United States?
Before the measles vaccine was introduced, measles caused about 400 deaths in the U.S. each year. Most people in the U.S. are now vaccinated against measles or have natural immunity, but outbreaks do happen. Most commonly, measles is brought into the U.S. by someone who has traveled outside the country. When unvaccinated people are exposed, measles spreads very quickly.
In a typical year, there are about 60 cases in the U.S., but there were 189 in 2013. While Washington typically has five or fewer cases a year, there were 32 cases reported in 2014.
Who is at risk from measles?
Anyone who hasn’t been immunized or had measles in the past is at risk. Babies younger than 12 months are at risk because most are too young to have been vaccinated yet. Pregnant women, young kids, and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for complications from measles.
What if someone in my family may have measles or was exposed to someone with measles?
Call your doctor, nurse, or clinic right away. Before you go to the doctor’s office, call to tell them that you or your family member might have measles. This will allow them to take steps to avoid exposing other people. Try to stay away from other people until at least four days after the rash starts or a test proves it’s not measles.
Where can I get more information about measles?