Back to Top Skip to main content

Measles vaccine protects against potentially serious illness

A Salvadoran nurse vaccinates a baby during a Task Force Northstar mission in El Salvador to provide medical care and other humanitarian and civic assistance. The mission involved U.S. military personnel working alongside their Brazilian, Canadian, Chilean, and Salvadoran counterparts. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Kim Browne) A Salvadoran nurse vaccinates a baby during a Task Force Northstar mission in El Salvador to provide medical care and other humanitarian and civic assistance. The mission involved U.S. military personnel working alongside their Brazilian, Canadian, Chilean, and Salvadoran counterparts. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Kim Browne)

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Vaccine Recommendations | Children's Health

In the midst of a measles outbreak in the United States, public health officials are urging parents to get their children vaccinated, and for parents to make sure they're up to date on their own vaccinations.

As of March 28, there have been 387 confirmed cases of the potentially serious illness this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Rockland County, New York, officials announced a temporary ban on unvaccinated people gathering in enclosed public spaces, reporting that more than 80 percent of the individuals with measles had not been vaccinated.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. The virus, which is spread by air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes, can remain in the air for up to two hours after the infected individual leaves.

The vaccine to protect against measles is called the MMR vaccine because it also protects against mumps and rubella. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended, said Dr. Margaret Ryan, a retired Navy captain and the medical director of the Pacific Region Vaccine Safety Hub of the Defense Health Agency's Immunization Healthcare Branch.

According to the CDC, two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97 percent effective in preventing measles, and one dose is about 93 percent effective.

"The MMR vaccine is a requirement for joining the service," Ryan said. "And all military family members should get the MMR vaccine along with other vaccines recommended by public health authorities such as the CDC. We strongly encourage and support protecting beneficiaries this way."

Noting that the DHA follows CDC recommendations, Ryan said children should get the first dose of the MMR vaccine at age 12 to 15 months. The second dose follows at least 28 days later, but usually between the ages of 4 and 6.

Adults who didn't receive two vaccine doses in childhood should also get at least one dose, she said.

"Those who are uncertain of their childhood vaccination history can get a blood test to confirm they're protected, or get the MMR vaccine," Ryan said. "Generally, it's safe to get extra doses."

The MMR vaccine is especially important for those who are traveling overseas. According to the World Health Organization, while deaths from measles have decreased significantly in recent years, the illness remains common, particularly in developing countries. According to the CDC, many of the recent U.S. cases of measles have been linked to visits to Israel, Ukraine, and other countries where large outbreaks have occurred.

People who should not get the vaccine include those who are pregnant, immune-compromised, or allergic to a component of the MMR vaccine, Ryan said. According to the CDC, allergic reactions are rare – about 1 in a million doses – and would occur anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.

Some parents mistakenly believe the MMR vaccine is connected to autism spectrum disorders. However, a large body of scientific research has proven there is no link between vaccines and the developmental disorder, even in children at high risk.

While most people don't experience side effects from receiving the MMR vaccine, some may get a mild fever or redness, swelling, or pain at the injection site, Ryan said.

"These kinds of symptoms are less common after the second dose," she said, "and if they occur, they usually resolve over a few days."

Coming down with measles is uncomfortable at best. The illness causes a rash and high fever. Further, approximately 30 percent of measles patients have complications including pneumonia or encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain. Ryan said about 1 in every 500 people who contract measles dies of the infection.

CDC data showed 372 cases in the civilian population in 2018. In 2017, there were no confirmed measles cases in the Military Health System, compared with 120 in the civilian population. The October 2017 Medical Surveillance Monthly Report includes data from 2010 to 2016 and can be accessed here.

You also may be interested in...

Army distributes 1.5 million flu vaccines

Article
10/10/2019
Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Alexander Wrigel (right), a medic assigned to Task Group 68.6, forward deployed to Camp Lemonnier, administers a flu shot to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Hector Ubinas. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joe Rullo)

Five to twenty percent of people in the U.S. are affected by the flu each season

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Immunizations | Medical Logistics

Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Video
9/30/2019
Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Measles can be life-threatening, especially for children and among people who have a compromised immune system.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Autumn ushers in season of falling under the weather with flu

Article
9/26/2019
A bronze bench and statue near the America Building at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, memorializes military dependent Trevor Lin. The 7-year-old's death in the fall of 2009 was attributed to influenza.  (Photo courtesy of Walter Reed-Bethesda)

Health care experts: Everyone 6 months and older should get vaccine

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Immunizations

DoD, HHS implement Executive Order to modernize flu vaccines

Article
9/25/2019
Health care experts recommend that everyone 6 months and older – including the elderly, chronically ill people, and expectant mothers – receive the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available. (DoD photo)

New task force aims to increase efficiency, effectiveness

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Immunizations

Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Video
9/23/2019
Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Hand washing alone will not prevent the spread of measles. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

A surprise delivery at Fort Bragg’s maternity fair

Article
9/19/2019
Pamela Riis (in pink the pink top) learns more about the use of nitrous oxide during labor at the semiannual Fort Bragg Maternity Fair. More than 300 pregnant women, soon-to-be dads, parents of infants, and those planning to have a baby soon participated in the event. (U.S. Army photo by Patricia Beal)

For Linda Steadman, a certified nursing assistant, this will be a day to remember

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Women's Health | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Measles Myths: Vaccines Are Safe

Video
9/17/2019
Measles Myths: Vaccines Are Safe

Vaccine components have been rigorously tested for safety. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Video
9/12/2019
Measles Myths: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Vaccines that prevent measles do not cause autism. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella | Autism Care Demonstration

Prevent to Protect: Analia

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Analia

Cancer left 5-year-old Analia Pages unable to get vaccinated. Her father, Master Sgt. Edward Pages, has to take extra steps to protect her from diseases she’s susceptible to.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Preventive Health | Immunizations

Prevent to Protect: Rosarios

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Rosarios

10-year-old Tatiana Rosario has a weakened immune system as a result of her cancer treatment. Growing up, she and her family made sacrifices to keep her safe from disease.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Preventive Health | Immunizations

Prevent to Protect: Immunization Awareness

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Immunization Awareness

Getting vaccinated not only protects yourself and your family from deadly diseases, but it also saves the lives to those who don’t have the immune system to fend for themselves. The Military Health System shares the stories of families with children who are at risk when others aren’t immunized.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Preventive Health | Immunizations

Prevent to Protect: Barbara and Floriann

Video
8/30/2019
Prevent to Protect: Barbara and Floriann

Barbara’s son Floriann grew up with an immune dysregulation. A Uniformed Services University pathology professor, she’s experienced first hand the importance of vaccines.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Preventive Health | Immunizations

DHA IPM 19-006: 2019–2020 Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Program (IVP)

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (o), implementing instructions, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for the seasonal influenza vaccination program. • This DHA-IPM cancels and reissues DHA-IPM 18-005. • This DHA-IPM is effective immediately and will expire 12 months from the date of issue.

Five tips for back-to-school vaccinations

Article
8/19/2019
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ayla Soltren, a 5th Battalion Army Reserve Career Division counselor, collects school supplies with her daughter, Lana, at a Back to School Info Fair hosted by the 6th Force Support Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Aug. 3, 2019. Another tradition of the season is making sure vaccinations are up to date to keep students healthy and protected. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan C. Grossklag)

Keeping children up-to-date on vaccinations protects them from vaccine-preventable infections that can be spread throughout schools and day care centers.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health

Get kids ready for back to school with preventive health care

Article
8/8/2019
Don’t wait to take command of your children’s health. Prioritize preventive exams and vaccinations before the school year begins. Preventive services, routine immunizations, and health screenings are the best ways to make sure your kids are healthy and ready to hit the books. (U.S. Air Force photo by L.A. Shively)

Preventive services, routine immunizations, and health screenings are the best ways to make sure your kids are healthy and ready to hit the books

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 10

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.