Measles MMR vaccine
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MONTEREY COUNTY — With measles on the rise nationally, and recent cases locally, County of Monterey Health Department joins Bay Area health officials in urging everyone to be up to date on measles vaccinations and to watch for symptoms after travel or exposure.

The best protection against measles is two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which protects individuals for life. This is particularly important for anyone traveling internationally in the upcoming months.

“The risk of exposure to measles in the Bay Area and Central Coast is still low,” said Dr. Edward Moreno, Monterey County Health Officer. “However, county residents should be aware of the risk of exposure related to international travel and consider taking steps to prevent measles.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2024 there have been 64 confirmed cases of measles across 17 jurisdictions, with more than 90% of those cases linked to international travel, as measles is circulating in many regions in the world, including popular tourist and business destinations. Most cases in the United States have been among children aged 12 months and older who had not received the MMR vaccine.

With three major airports, the Bay Area is a hub for international travel, increasing the potential for exposure to this highly contagious virus. For individuals or families that plan to travel internationally, anyone who is not vaccinated against measles is at increased risk of getting infected.

Plan early before international travel and check the destination and the CDC’s Global Measles Travel Health Notice for more travel health advice, including where measles outbreaks have been reported. Parents should consult with their child’s healthcare provider prior to travel.

After returning to the United States, watch for signs and symptoms of measles for three weeks. While MMR vaccination rates have been high in the Bay Area, it’s important to confirm vaccination history.

“Having documentation of your vaccination status can help you avoid being quarantined if you are exposed,” according to the Health Department in a news release. “The CDC offers accelerated vaccination guidelines for persons, including children under 12 months, who plan to travel internationally.”

Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis (pink eye), followed by a rash two to four days later. The virus is transmitted through direct contact with infectious droplets or through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. Infectious droplets can linger in indoor air for several hours.

About 1 in 5 persons infected with measles requires hospitalization, and nearly 1 to 3 of every 1,000 children who become infected will die from respiratory and neurologic complications, according to the CDC. The virus presents the greatest risk to children under 5 years of age, adults over 20 years of age, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.

Vaccination is highly effective at preventing measles. The MMR vaccine is recommended for children aged 12-15 months, with a second dose administered between ages 4 and 6. Infants 6-12 months of age can start vaccination early prior to international travel. Teenagers and adults with no evidence of immunity should be vaccinated right away.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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