Measles vaccination: Why is it essential?

Measles is an infectious viral disease that is marked by an angry red rash and fever which appears first on the head and then spreads to the lower limbs. The virus infects the respiratory tract, then spreads throughout the body.

It can spread from one person to another extremely fast; just breathing the same air as an infected person is enough to spread the disease. If you have two kids, if one catches this virus; it is almost certain that the other will catch it too unless you are very lucky.

Moreover, the virus can stay active for a long time in the room or on surfaces like desks and tables for at least two hours.  So, it is extremely easy to catch this virus especially in a closed setting like a playschool or a day-care where many kids are bundled together. Even if one child is infected, the infection will spread like wildfire unless all the kids are vaccinated.

An infected person stays contagious for a few days before and after the rash develops. Most people are not aware that they have measles until the rash develops, and this leads to the unchecked spread of the disease without vaccination.

Since measles is caused by a virus, it cannot be treated with any antibiotic. Usually a fever reducing medicine is given to the child. Other important measures like keeping your child hydrated by giving him/ her plenty of fluids like water and juices is vital.

Usually measles takes its course and subsides within 6-7 days but sometimes serious complications including pneumonia, blindness etc. can occur.1, 2

Hence, all in all it is better to prevent your baby from falling   prey measles through timely vaccination. The measles vaccination is given in combination with the mumps and the rubella vaccines and is called as MMR. It is an essential vaccine and is a part of your baby’s compulsory vaccine schedule.

Measles can be extremely severe when it strikes adults (>20 years of age).4 Pregnant women can have complications like abortion, stillbirth etc. if they contract it.5 Adolescents and adults who have not had measles or have not been vaccinated should get vaccinated too. Two doses of MMR vaccine can confer 100% protection against measles.

Consult a doctor immediately if you notice any severe symptom.

References:

  1. BMJ. 2006 Dec 16; 333(7581): 1234.
  2. Surv Ophthalmol. 2004 Mar-Apr;49(2):243-55.
  3. http://acvip.org/professional/columns/mmr-vaccines
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4353695/
  5. J Infect. 2003 Jul;47(1):40-4
  6. 2015 Mar 17;33(12):1440-5.

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