News 8 On Call – Frequently asked questions about measles

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Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Zane Saul at Bridgeport Hospital answered common questions about measles

How effective is the measles vaccine?

Dr. Saul said, “The measles vaccine is actually in the form of MMR, measles, mumps and rubella. It all comes in one vaccine. And you get two of them. If you get one, it’s 93 percent effective. With the addition of the 2nd one, it’s 98 percent effective. So, it’s almost 100 percent effective.”  

Is there a booster vaccine?

“No boosters are required. It does not look like that,” he said. “There has not been any booster recommended in measles.” 

What’s happening now? Wasn’t measles eradicated?

He explained, “The vaccine was introduced in the early 60’s and we actually eradicated the disease in the U.S. by 2000. But what happens, well, there are pockets of people that are unvaccinated, people don’t want to vaccinate themselves or their children for religious beliefs or because they are not pro-vaccine people. They travel abroad to places where measles is present and they bring it back with them.” 

Related Content: US measles tally hits 465, with most illnesses in kids

This question is from Ann on Facebook:

Anyone born before 1957 is immune to measles due to the widespread epidemic during that time. My questions are – Is this a different strain, and if so, is it more severe than the 1950’s?

“Same strain, better immunity when it’s natural,” he said.

Randi, who is also on Facebook, asked:

Can measles stunt boys growth by harming testosterone production?

Dr. Saul said, “No, but mumps can.  And mumps get into two places. On the salivary glands, the other in the testicles. And, actually, mumps can lead to infertility.” 

Why is the vaccine so important? 

“It’s very contagious,” he said. “One of the most contagious viruses that we have. And the problem is, you are contagious for two to four days before you get the rash…So you don’t even know you have it, you may think you have a cold because the early symptoms are runny nose, cough and red eyes. So at this point, you are already contagious. So, the best protection is vaccination.”  

Not everyone can get vaccinated.

Dr. Saul said it’s not given to people with weakened immune systems and infants under a year old. 
That’s why it’s important everyone else gets the vaccine, herd immunity, to protect those too weak to get them.

News 8 is On Call for you. If you have questions about yout health, send it over to news8oncall@wtnh.com

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