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Ensure your Measles vaccinations are up-to-date

About Measles 

Globally, there have been increases in measles cases, with recent cases seen in Canada and within Ontario. Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus that spreads very easily through the air or through contact with respiratory secretions on surfaces. The measles virus can live in the air or on surfaces for up to 2 hours. 

Symptoms of measles include fever, runny nose, cough, red watery eyes, and drowsiness, followed by a red, blotchy rash that starts on the face and progresses down the body. Small white spots may appear on the inside of the mouth and throat but are not always present. Individuals most at risk for complications from measles are unvaccinated infants, unvaccinated pregnant people, and people who are immunocompromised. Complications include ear infections, diarrhea, hearing loss, pneumonia, brain swelling (encephalitis), seizures, and in rare cases, death. There is no specific treatment for measles other than supportive care. 

How to Prevent Measles 

Vaccination is the best way to protect against measles. Measles-containing vaccines, MMR and MMRV, are highly effective and safe. Efficacy of a single dose of measles-containing vaccine given at 12 or 15 months of age is estimated to be 85 to 95%. With a second dose, efficacy in children approaches 100%. However, since measles is very contagious, at least 95% of a community needs to be immunized, to develop “community immunity” (“herd immunity”) against measles, to prevent transmission. 

Check Immunization Records to Ensure Measles Vaccinations are Up-To-Date 

Lambton Public Health is reminding the community to check their immunization records to ensure their measles vaccinations are up-to-date. This can be done by reviewing their yellow immunization card with their Primary Care Provider as needed, or via ICON for children. 

People born before 1970 would likely have had measles illness as a child and are already immune and protected from measles. However, if travelling, individuals born before 1970 should speak with their health care provider about getting one dose of MMR vaccine prior to their trip if they are uncertain if they had measles as a child or do not have lab evidence of immunity. Vaccination is recommended over lab testing to confirm measles immunity before travel

  • First dose at 1 year of age (MMR), and, 
  • Second dose at 4 to 6 years of age (MMRV). 
  • When travelling or in certain settings, in addition to the above routine immunizations, the following is recommended for those at higher risk of exposure to measles:  
  • Infants 6 to 11 months of age who are travelling to areas with increased measles transmission should be immunized with one dose of MMR. These children will also require two additional doses on or after their 1st birthday, as per the routine immunization schedule in Ontario.  
  • Adults 18 years of age and older who have previously received one dose of MMR should receive a second dose if they are health care providers, post-secondary students, planning to travel to areas with increased measles transmission, or based on their health care provider’s clinical judgment. 

What to Do if You Have Symptoms of Measles 

If you think you may have measles and need to see a health care provider, call the clinic or hospital before you go to inform them that you are having symptoms of measles. This will allow health care staff to take the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of infection and protect others visiting the office, clinic, or hospital.