2019 Measles Outbreak: Information for Parents
The article linked in this blog was written by Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician, mother of two, and the Chief of Digital Innovation at Seattle Children’s hospital, and was originally posted on Seattle Mama Doc. Sections of the article have been included in this blog with the permission of the author. Cover photo credit: Dave Haygarth/Flickr.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of June 6, 2019, 1,022 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 28 states across the U.S. With the disease threatening the health of families in a country that once eliminated it, parents are worried about protecting their children, and rightly so. Doctors and public health officials play a vital role in combating the spread of misinformation on the vaccine that’s available for measles (known as the MMR or the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine) which is highly effective and protects against not one, but three infectious diseases! Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, aka Seattle Mama Doc, takes on some of the questions that she frequently hears from adults (with or without children) during this time. Below are some excerpts from her latest blog on the measles outbreak.
Is there an update on laws to increase safety in schools and communities?
Dr. Swanson: Perhaps one shining light that has come from this awful outbreak is that new laws are being passed to increase safety in our schools and communities. In May, in my home state, Washington’s governor signed a law that says parents with children heading to daycare or school will no longer be able to claim personal or philosophical objections to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine — schools will increasingly be the LAST place your child would ever get exposed to measles. Big win! Read more.
What is the risk for children who are too young to be immunized?
Dr. Swanson: The question I may have received the most is surrounding protection for babies too young to be immunized. Can I travel with my baby? Should I avoid the grocery store? Can they go on playdates? My answer is a little complicated — but yes, even during this outbreak we can live mostly as we normally do. You do not need to hunker down at home.
I hate that I can’t completely say infants are perfectly safe during an outbreak. Infants are a vulnerable population during a measles outbreak …however, newborns are well protected by the antibodies their mom passed onto them. With each month after birth, infants gradually lose some of those maternal antibodies and they become more at-risk if, in the rare case, they are exposed. Read more
What about infants 6-12 months who live where outbreaks are occurring?
Dr. Swanson: You can always talk with your own pediatrician about this. The short answer is there is no need to accelerate the vaccine schedule for your baby (no need to get an “early shot” of MMR) right now in the U.S. and in fact, there may be more reason not to. I’ll keep you posted if this changes.
To read the complete blog and catch up on MMR vaccine recommendations for children and adults, click here or listen to her podcast. Don’t miss what Wendy had to say about vaccinating her kids during Sabin’s #GiveYourKidsAShot campaign.
Why do you vaccinate? We encourage moms and dads to tell us why you #GiveYourKidsAShot using this form so we can share it on social media. Your reason could help another parent. To read what other parents have to say, click here.