A very public health struggle in the northeast has health officials sounding the alarm on a possible flaw with older measles vaccines.
In Rockland County, New York, not far from the hustle and bustle of The Big Apple, a massive measles outbreak in underway. The situation has become so dire that local authorities have banned unvaccinated children from being in public places…including their own schools.
Amid this renewed concern over a disease that had been previously eradicated in the United States has national health officials concerned that Americans who received a measles vaccine before 1989 could be due for a refresher.
Nowadays, children get two doses of the combination measles, mumps, and rubella, or MMR, vaccine starting at the age of one. But as recently as the 1980s, people in the U.S. and elsewhere were only given one shot. It was only in 1989, following a series of outbreaks, that public health experts in the U.S. endorsed a two-dose MMR schedule. The MMR vaccine, like so many, isn’t perfectly effective against measles even with two shots (97 percent effective), but it’s still better than one shot (93 effective).
The Center for Disease Control has outlined several specific years as well.
That doesn’t necessarily mean everyone born before 1989 should immediately rush out and get vaccinated with MMR again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends, for instance, that people who were vaccinated between 1963 to 1967 with a killed virus vaccine get a shot of the current MMR vaccine, since that older version wasn’t very effective. The CDC also recommends that adults who are somehow still unvaccinated get at least one shot’s worth of protection.
Measles vaccines tend to lose their protective power after several years doctors have warned, adding another layer of worry as these epidemic outbreaks continue to spawn worldwide.