When should parents be vaccinated against measles?

“Nervous.”

I’ve heard that word a lot lately. It keeps falling from the mouths of my families in clinic, landing on the floor with a silent thud.

I mean, we have a right to be. We should be. It is one of the most infectious diseases on the planet, today about 400 people worldwide will have died of it, and the number of infected people in the U.S. is climbing.

As measles is spreading out of California, we are anticipating the disease will once again arrive in my city of Kansas City. Our community, like so many others, is worldly, mobile, and dynamically moving. And the threat of someone bringing the disease home is leaving many families in our city: just nervous.

The good news, of course, is that measles is a vaccine-preventable disease. Two doses of the vaccine shield us from measles with remarkable effectiveness. The vaccine is safe and readily available. And best of all? Getting the vaccine gives us confidence that we have the done the best we can to protect ourselves and our kids.

So, let’s change nervous to protected. Prepared. Ready. For this outbreak and outbreaks to come, let’s make sure that the whole family has a shield of protection, including moms and dads.

Should moms and dads get the MMR vaccine?

  • All adults born after 1957 should be vaccinated against measles.
  • You should get the MMR if you have no written record of being vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine. Note: A vague memory of getting vaccinated, a conversation with your mom about getting vaccinated as a kid, or assuming you are vaccinated since you went to public school do not constitute a written record.
  • A second dose of the MMR vaccine (given 28 days after the first dose) is recommended for adults who work in health care, are in secondary education, or travel internationally.
  • Quick exceptions: If you are currently pregnant or will be pregnant in the next four weeks, you cannot get the vaccine. Adults with certain medical conditions, who are taking certain medications, or who are allergic to a component of the vaccine cannot get vaccinated. Ask your doctor for more details.

Kudos to all the moms and dads in our area who have asked about getting vaccinated, who are preparing protection for their families, and who have rolled up their sleeve. You are taking action in helping in the fight against the resurgence of this disease.

For more information about the adult MMR vaccine, including side effects seen in adults, and where you can get the vaccine, check out the CDC website or measles information on the Immunization Action Coalition.

Natasha Burgert is a pediatrician who blogs at KC Kids Doc.

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