Vaccinate Your Child for Measles

With reported cases of measles in Colorado, Estes Park Health wants to keep you safe and informed. Here are the top 5 things EPH wants you to know about Measles:

What is measles?

Measles, also called rubeola, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that’s caused by a virus. Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, sore throat and sensitivity to light, and is followed by a rash that that typically starts on the forehead and spreads all over the body. Measles can be serious, especially for young children.

Even in previously healthy children measles can cause complications, including:

  • Hospitalization (1 in 5)
  • Ear infections (1 in 10)
  • Pneumonia (up to 1 in 20)
  • Encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, which can lead to brain damage (1 in 1,000)
  • Death (1-3 in 1,000, even with good healthcare)

Additionally, measles can cause severe complications in pregnant women.

How is it spread?

Measles is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is one of the most contagious diseases on the planet. In fact, measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. A person who is not immune to the virus can catch measles from an infected person even in large spaces like gymnasiums, grocery stores and movie theaters. People who have measles can spread the virus to others from four days before the rash appears to four days after the rash appears. The virus can live on infected surfaces and in the air for up to two hours.

How can I protect my child from measles?

Measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all children receive two doses of MMR vaccine beginning at 12 to 15 months of age with a booster dose between 4 and 6 years of age. The vaccine takes about 10 days to two weeks to provide protection. If your family is traveling overseas, talk to your child’s doctor about getting the vaccine sooner. For questions about how to get your child the MMR vaccine, please contact your child’s doctor or call the Estes Park Health Physician Clinic 970-586-2200.

Is the measles vaccine safe?

Yes. Most people who get the measles vaccine do not experience side effects, although mild problems such as fever, pain at the injection site or rash can occur. The risk of a serious allergic reaction from the MMR vaccine is very rare, about one in 1 million

What do I do if I have a fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, or a rash?

Stay home! Call your health care provider (Estes Park Health Physician Clinic at 970-586-2200) BEFORE coming to the hospital or clinic. Pre-screening is extremely important so that other members of the community are not put at risk. If, or when, you decide to seek medical care, PLEASE put a mask on as soon as you enter the building if you have a fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and or a rash. Read and follow all signs posted at healthcare facility entrances.

Erica Williams, RN, BSN, Director of Infection Control