Measles, a disease declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, is making a comeback. As of Wednesday, April 24, there were 695 measles cases in 22 states, according to the CDC. As public health officials implore parents to get their kids vaccinated, some adults are wondering if the shots they received years ago are enough to keep them safe.
As WECT reports, adults born between 1957 and 1989 may benefit from getting a measles vaccine booster, even if they received the vaccine when they were kids. Many Baby Boomers and people from older generations were likely exposed to measles as children, and are therefore immune to the virus. But measles rates have dropped since 1963 when the measles vaccine was first introduced. In 1989, the CDC began recommending two doses of the vaccine for kids, spaced out over a few years, for maximum effectiveness.
CDC guidelines for measles vaccines haven't changed since the current outbreak began. The department says that anyone born after 1957 should have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which is 93 percent effective against the disease. But if Gen Xers want to be extra cautious, they can ask their doctor to test their antibody levels to see if they're immune. If they're still vulnerable to measles, they can get a second booster shot, which together with the initial vaccination is about 97 percent effective.
But the CDC's current priority is children who haven't been vaccinated at all. Thanks to the misinformation around vaccines, a growing number of parents have opted not to get their kids vaccinated, which has fueled the current health crisis in the U.S. According to a 2016 review of measles studies, out of 970 measles cases, almost 42 percent of patients had skipped the vaccine for non-medical reasons.
The symptoms of measles range in severity from a rash around the hairline to coma and brain swelling. The CDC warns that the longer this current outbreak continues, the greater the chance is that measles will stay in the U.S. for good.