|[October 01, 2013]
U.S. Measles Rise Means Vaccinations Necessary, Says Packard Children's Expert
STANFORD, Calif. --(Business Wire)--
With school under way and the Centers
for Disease Control reporting that 2013 is on track to be the worst
year for measles in the United States since 1996, parents need to ensure
their children's immunity. To learn about vaccinations and this year's
increase in measles cases, we sat down with Hayley
Gans, MD, an infectious-disease specialist at Lucile Packard
Children's Hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the
Stanford University School of Medicine.
What do you think is the main cause of the uptick in U.S. measles
cases this year?
Dr. Gans: There are multiple reasons for the surge. Increasingly,
there are whole communities who have not been vaccinated for measles,
and the reasons vary from religious to philosophical.
Second, travelers to this country who have not been immunized and are
sick with measles can introduce the disease into U.S. populations that
do not have immunity from measles. In addition, unimmunized or partially
immunized residents who travel to areas where measles is circulating may
become ill and bring the disease back to this country.
When should a parent get their child vaccinated?
Dr. Gans: The current recommendation is for a child to receive
his or her first measles vaccine between 12 to 15 months of age, and
then the second dose between the ages of 4 and 6 years. But the second
dose can be given as early as one month after the first dose.
If a parent is planning to travel with their children, any child that is
older than 6 months should receive the vaccine, and any child who has
received one dose should receive a second dose. In order for the vaccine
to be protective, it should be administered at least two weeks prior to
travel. In addition, parents should notassume that a foreign country is
free of measles. Many nations, including some European countries, are
having recurrences of the disease after being free of measles for years.
How long does the vaccine last? Is it possible to get measles twice?
Dr. Gans: As far as we can tell, the measles vaccine provides
lifelong protection -- there should not be a need for a booster later in
life. Two doses of the measles vaccine should be enough.
As for contracting measles a second time, when a person has natural
measles once, he or she is immune to a recurrence.
What are the side effects of the measles vaccine, if any? Are there
any inherent dangers to the vaccine?
Dr. Gans: There has been no link between the measles vaccine and
a major disease. The most common side effects are related to the site of
immunization, which include redness and swelling. Between 5 and 15
percent of people may develop a fever and slight rash, which is not
What are your predictions for the spread of measles in the Bay Area
and in the United States?
Dr. Gans: It is difficult to predict how measles will behave both
locally and nationally because of all the cases of measles imported by
travelers. But what we do know is that measles cases will spread in
areas where immunity is low. In the Bay Area and in the rest of the
U.S., we definitely have populations where the rate of measles immunization
is lower than is required to stop transmission, and those areas will be
more susceptible to measles. Measles is highly contagious and requires
greater than 95 percent of the population to be immune to disrupt
The good news is that most people in the U.S. are immune to measles
because they have been vaccinated. The areas of higher immunity will
prevent measles from traveling too widely, in addition to preventing the
virus from becoming endemic in the U.S. again. While measles was
declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, it is now
re-emerging because of low immunization rates in some populations and
Click to learn more about the Infectious
Disease Clinic at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital
About Packard Children's Hospital
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford is an internationally
recognized 311-bed hospital and leading regional medical network
providing a full complement of services for the health of children and
expectant mothers.�Together,�our world-class Stanford
Medicine doctors, nurses and staff deliver innovative, nurturing
care and extraordinary outcomes in every pediatric and obstetric
specialty. Packard Children's is annually ranked as one of the nation's
finest by�U.S. News & World Report�and the only Northern
California children's hospital with specialty programs ranked in the�U.S.
News�Top 10. Learn more about our full range of preeminent
the Packard Children's Health Alliance at�PCHA.org.
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