The United States has experienced the highest number of people infected with measles in 25 years. Fortunately for Colorado, there has only been one documented case.
For Delta County, records indicate that 89 percent of school children have received the recommended Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. This is below the 95 percent immunization rate advised by Healthy People 2020 to prevent an outbreak.
Delta County Health Department would like to remind everyone that vaccinations can prevent illness and save lives. Vaccine hesitancy (i.e., lack of confidence in vaccines, perceived value, and convenience) is the number one reason why parents do not vaccinate their children or delay their child's needed vaccinations.
People who were vaccinated prior to 1968 with either inactivated (killed) measles vaccine or measles vaccine of unknown type should be revaccinated with at least one dose of live, attenuated measles vaccine (MMR). A killed measles vaccine, which was available in 1963-1967, was not as effective. People born before 1957 are likely to have been infected naturally and therefore are presumed to be protected against measles, mumps, and rubella. However, if someone was born before 1957 and belongs to certain high-risk groups, they may need MMR vaccine or other proof of immunity.
Measles infection is a serious illness. Serious complications can occur in all age groups, but complications are most common in children under age 5 and adults over age 20. Complications range from pneumonia to encephalitis. Prior to the MMR vaccine 450-500 deaths related to measles infection occurred annually in the U.S.
People infected with measles often don't recognize the early mild flu-like symptoms as being associated with measles. However, they are contagious and can easily spread the disease to others by the time the hallmark red rash appears.
If you have concerns that you may have been exposed to measles or have symptoms, please contact a health care provider as soon as possible. To limit exposure to others, do not go inside a doctor's office, urgent care or hospital unless instructed by your doctor.
Delta County Health Department has highly trained professionals willing to answer any questions about vaccines and help parents make the best decision for their children. For more information, call 874-2165.