Measles is no longer a major concern in the developed world, but your travel plans may take you to a region where measles is still endemic. If you plan to travel internationally, you may need to be vaccinated for measles. Here are four things you need to know about the vaccine.
What is measles?
Measles is a very contagious viral infection. It spreads through infected saliva or nasal secretions, so if a sick person coughs or sneezes in your vicinity, you may get sick. If you get sick, you will experience a fever, head cold, and a characteristic red rash all over your body.
Adults who get measles tend to develop more serious complications than children do, including pneumonia and brain inflammation. In areas with poor healthcare, as many as 28% of people will die, so if your travels will take you to underdeveloped regions, getting vaccinated is especially important.
Which travelers are at risk?
Travelers who have never had measles or have never had the measles vaccine are at risk of getting sick. If you are already vaccinated as a child, or if you had measles, you may already be immune.
In the United States, measles cases are rare, but in many parts of the world, the disease is still a major problem. Recent outbreaks have occurred in parts of South America, Asia, and Central Africa. The disease is still a problem in Europe as well, including popular tourist destinations such as France and Italy.
Make sure to tell your doctor which countries you will be visiting on your holiday so that your doctor can help you decide if you need to get the vaccine.
How is the vaccine given?
If you were born in the United States in 1957 or later and have never had measles or the vaccination, you will need to get at least one dose of the vaccine. One dose may be given if you are traveling to a low-risk area, but if you're traveling to a high-risk country, you will need to get two doses.
These doses are given in the form of an injection, and they need to be given at least four weeks apart. Make sure to see your doctor far enough in advance to allow yourself time to get vaccinated before you leave for your holiday.
How effective is the vaccine?
Studies have reported that a single dose of the measles vaccine is between 85 and 95% effective, and with a second dose, the vaccine is almost 100% effective.
If you plan to travel internationally, you may need to get vaccinated for measles. Make an appointment with a doctor (such as one from Orange Beach Walk-In Medical Care) to discuss your travel plans and to get any necessary vaccinations.