People planning international travel should ensure they have already received the recommended two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Nationwide, confirmed measles cases in 2019 total 704, the highest since 1994. Nearly all these cases have been linked back to international travel by unvaccinated people and subsequent spread in unvaccinated populations in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two doses of MMR vaccine for everyone: the first dose at 12-15 months of age and the second dose at 4-6 years of age. Adults traveling internationally should get vaccinated for measles if they did not receive the two doses as children. Vaccination is the best protection against measles.
Talk to your doctor about travel immunizations at least four to six weeks before traveling. For those travelling internationally with a baby older than 6 months but younger than 12 months, the CDC recommends that the baby receive an early dose of MMR vaccine. Infants and young children who contract measles are at risk of serious complications. More information about recommended vaccines for travelers is located on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mmr/public/index.html.
“Measles is a serious disease,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer. “It’s critical to get vaccinated, both to protect ourselves and the people in our community who can’t receive the vaccine for medical reasons.”
Measles is still common in many parts of the world in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, South America, and Africa, including the Philippines, Israel, India, and the Ukraine. If you are planning a trip, protect yourself against diseases that are more common in the country you are visiting.
Measles immunizations are available at your healthcare provider, local pharmacy, or health clinic. Locate a place that offers the measles vaccine at vaccinefinder.org.
While no measles cases have been identified in Contra Costa County this year, Contra Costa Health Services is taking steps to increase public awareness about MMR vaccination and the spread of the disease and has increased the hours of its Travel Immunization Clinic on Fridays in Martinez.
MMR vaccine is available at the clinic upon request, including for babies as young as 6 months who are preparing to travel internationally. Visit cchealth.org/immunization/travel.php for more information and the immunization fee schedule. Call 925-313-6488 to make an appointment.
Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90 percent of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. A person with measles can spread the disease to others even before they have any symptoms. A person develops measles from 7 to 21 days after being exposed to someone who is contagious with measles. Common symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and a rash.
If you are unsure of your immunization status or may have had contact with someone with measles, consult with your doctor. It is very important to call ahead to any medical facility before going there and tell them that you may have been exposed to measles, so that the facility can take measures to protect other patients and visitors.
This message is sent on behalf of the Association of Bay Area Health Officers (ABAHO). Contra Costa has had no confirmed measles cases in 2019.