This Guest Blog Post was written by Dr. Dov Shapiro, MD of Associated Pediatric Partners.
By now you have all heard about the measles cases in Chicagoland. As measles is very rare in the US nowadays, the following brief blog post is meant to give some practical advice and dispel some misconceptions.
Measles is a viral infection that presents with fever, cold and possibly cough, pink eye and a significant red rash that starts on the head and face (particularly behind the ears and at the scalp line) and then spreads downward across the body. Measles is highly contagious and symptoms begin within 7-21 days of exposure. People with measles do not act well; rather they look and feel quite sick.
While the measles vaccine is very effective, it is not perfect, and a small number (about 2%) of people do not respond to the vaccine. Normally this is not an issue, as we rely on the fact that the rest of the population is immune and therefore will not expose these few patients to measles. We call this “herd immunity.” The problem begins when people stop vaccinating their children for various reasons that have been refuted by modern medicine. Once the rate of vaccination in the general population falls below 95%, measles outbreaks begin to occur.
The MMR vaccine does not cause autism. Let me repeat that – The MMR vaccine does not cause autism. But measles is a very real and very dangerous illness, and failure to vaccinate for it puts your child and other children at risk.
- First and foremost, if your child has received both doses of the MMR vaccine, they are immune (the vaccine is about 98-99% effective) and you needn’t worry at this time. A third MMR shot is not being recommended.
- If your child has received one dose of the MMR vaccine and is not old enough to receive the second dose yet, they are about 90% protected. If they are 4 years old or above, they may receive their second MMR shot.
- If your child is less than one year of age, the CDC is not recommending routine MMR vaccination in children less than a year at this time.
- For those few patients that are non-compliant with MMR vaccination (without medical contraindication), this current outbreak underscores the need for universal vaccination. Please go to your doctor immediately and have your child vaccinated.
- If the unlikely event that your child is exposed to someone with measles and has not yet received two doses of the MMR vaccine, it is recommend that they come in immediately to receive the MMR vaccine (within 72 hours of exposure). Your child must be at least 6 months old to be offered post-exposure prophylaxis with the MMR vaccine. Please call first, as you and your child will need to follow special guidelines to enter the office.
- If you suspect that your child has measles, please call the doctor prior to coming to the office. Many offices have established isolation rooms and strict isolation guidelines that you will need to follow so as not to come into contact with any other patients.
Dr Shapiro is one of the managing physicians at Associated Pediatric Partners. He attended medical school at the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago and did his pediatrics residency at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. He prides himself on providing top notch care in a warm, friendly, and compassionate manner. His areas of interest are preventative health care, allergies and asthma, ADHD, behavioral and school issues, and child development. He sees children from newborn through college age and is equally comfortable in caring for newborns, adolescents, and young adults. Dr. Shapiro is married and lives in West Rogers Park with his wife and 5 children.