WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ‘Generation X,' may want to consider getting another booster shot to protect against the measles.
“If you were born prior to 1957, the CDC considers you have been most likely exposed to measles to probably immune. If you were born in ’57 or beyond and don’t have two vaccines you can document or blood evidence so an antibody level that shows you either had the disease or had immunizations and have immunity then you should talk to your provider about getting a booster,” said Andy Illobre, PA at Masonboro Family Medicine in Wilmington.
Beginning in 1989, the CDC started recommending two doses of the vaccine for maximum effectiveness.
As of April 19, the CDC reported there have been 636 confirmed measles cases in the United States since Jan. 1. This includes illnesses reported by state health departments to the CDC through April 19 and therefore does not include cases reported since then.
Since the latest update, which is released every Monday, the number has risen to 681 cases, making it the largest outbreak since measles were declared eradicated in 2000.
“There’s been a lot of controversy with certain groups about getting vaccines or not getting vaccines so many people have chosen not to vaccinate their children and that has led to resurgence of the disease,” said Illobre.
The CDC states an increase in travelers who get measles abroad and bring the disease back to the US, and an increase in communities with pockets of unvaccinated people have contributed to the outbreak.
If you do not know if you have had a second measles vaccine and cannot track down records, a blood test can detect the presence or absence of antibodies. Illobre also said an additional booster would not do harm, but insurance may not cover it.
The measles have been reported in 22 states, but North Carolina has not yet been impacted. Illobre said there are different measures North Carolinians can take to prevent a measles outbreak in the state.
“First off vaccination is the absolute key to controlling the spread of the disease, but also hand washing, taking care to not be exposed to people who have severe fibril illness so if you know somebody’s running a fever, especially if they have the classic signs of the cough with conjunctivitis, and that sort of complex of symptoms with a fever definitely stay away from those people," he said. "Using the hand wipes at the grocery store and other places where a lot of people gather. That’s key to keeping exposure down.”
Illobre urged those who have not been vaccinated, including children to get vaccinated against the measles as the outbreak continues to grow.
“If we do start seeing measles the ones that aren’t vaccinated are going to be the first to fall. So it’s never too late get immunized and we certainly want anyone that’s traveling, even with super young like six months or older children that are traveling internationally can get the vaccine earlier than the recommended 12-15 months,” he said.
The measles is an extremely contagious viral illness that can come with complications like pneumonia. Common symptoms are fever, conjunctivitis, body rash, and cough.