In the first few months of 2019, the United States has witnessed the second-greatest number of reported measles cases since the disease was eliminated in 2000.
As of April 8, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 465 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 19 states, including in Georgia.
Health officials say this is a textbook example of why it's critical to vaccinate against measles, the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in the world.
The CDC recommends that all children get two doses of measles vaccine, which experts say is 97% effective.
But what if you don’t know whether or not you were vaccinated as a kid?
Step one: Find your vaccination records.
If you’ve received the recommended doses of the MMR or the MMRV vaccine, you’d likely have written documentation with proof showing at least one of the following, according to the CDC:
- You received one or two doses of measles-containing vaccine. Note the dose depends on the age you received the vaccine as a child or how exposed you are as an adult to measles transmission. More on that here.
- A laboratory confirmed you’ve had measles at some point in your life
- A lab confirmed you’re immune to measles
- You were born before 1957
Step two: Don’t have written records available? Talk to your doctor.
According to the CDC, you have two options if you can’t find your records. Get vaccinated or have your doctor check to see if you’re immune.
If you choose to undergo blood testing to check immunity, note that you’ll likely be paying for two doctor’s visits.
Additionally, the agency notes, “there is no harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine if you may already be immune to measles (or mumps or rubella).”
What are the typical symptoms of measles?
According to the CDC, the following symptoms appear one to two weeks after infection:
- high fever
- runny nose
- red, watery eyes
Once symptoms begin, tiny white Koplik spots may appear inside the mouth before a measles rash breaks out. This rash, which looks like small, red bumps joined together, can spread from the airline to the rest of the body, spiking an infected individual’s fever to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you think you have measles...
Call your doctor immediately. If you’re up to date on your records, you may be immune to the disease. But if you have measles, your doctor will probably recommend staying home for a few days after you see a measles rash coming in.
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