1992: the Clinton administration, Madonna, Disney’s Aladdin and…measles?
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. has seen the most cases of measles in 2019 since 1992.
A report indicates that the number of cases has surpassed 1,200 and has hospitalized more than 100.
Pediatric infectious disease specialist Frank Esper, MD, says measles is dangerous because of the serious complications that can develop from it, especially for children.
“What happens with measles, more so than with other types of viruses that circulate through the season, is it’s more likely to cause pneumonia,” he explains. “The virus can get into the lungs and cause pneumonia and it can get into the blood, which then goes to the brain and can cause brain swelling.”
About 1 to 2 out of every thousand children will get brain swelling and about one out of every 20 will get pneumonia.
Measles is still a threat if you aren’t vaccinated
Dr. Esper says even though ‘home grown’ cases of measles have been under control for decades, it’s important to remember that measles is still very common in other parts of the world.
And when the disease travels to the U.S., those who are unvaccinated are at risk.
The MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella is recommended for children beginning at one year of age.
There is also a booster between ages 4 and 6.
Missed your shot? It’s not too late
It’s never too late to get the MMR vaccine if you didn’t receive it as a child.
Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but those around you — especially the most vulnerable, who might not be vaccinated yet because they’re either too young or have immunity problems.
“Protecting yourself from measles prevents you from spreading it to everyone else around you,” says Dr. Esper. “Even if you’re not too worried about getting measles yourself, there are people around you who may be at risk of more severe infection, especially small children.”
Dr. Esper says some people express concerns about the safety of the vaccine, or worry about their child being irritable after receiving it. But research shows that the MMR vaccine is not only safe — it’s very effective.
And while no one likes to see their baby cry after getting a shot, Dr. Esper says it’s worth it in the long run for the health of your child. Being vaccinated far outweighs short term issues like redness, soreness or a fever.