Should Your Summer Vacation Checklist Include a Measles Shot?
Families should be cautious of measles outbreaks at popular summer travel destinations and activities
As families begin to compile their list of traditional summer activities, AmeriHealth Caritas — a national leader in Medicaid managed care and other health care solutions for those most in need — recommends a visit to the doctor to determine if vaccinations are needed to prevent contracting infectious diseases like the measles.
The recent outbreak of measles has raised concerns about the potential spreading of the infectious disease at large gatherings where people are in close contact — such as at popular amusement parks, music festivals, sporting events, cruises, political rallies and summer camps. Transportation to these gatherings also pose a risk as mass transit and airlines often pack people shoulder-to-shoulder in trains, planes and buses.
"We are social creatures. We live, work and play together. The spread of an infectious disease could happen quickly today," said Dr. Andrea Gelzer, AmeriHealth Caritas’ Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs. "For this reason, getting vaccinated against preventable diseases is highly recommended. Vaccines protect you and they can prevent the spread of disease to others."
As of July 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 1,022 individual cases of measles in 28 states.1 The states that have reported cases to CDC are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.
The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated. Although the CDC declared measles virtually eliminated in 2000 — before the recent outbreak, measles has been a common disease in many parts of the world. The disease is often brought into this country by unvaccinated American travelers who were infected in other countries.2
While it is important for international travelers to have the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine (and other travel vaccines for typhoid and yellow fever) before heading out on vacation, it equally important for "homebodies" to protect themselves from infectious diseases. Much like the annual prevention strategy to avoid the flu, Dr. Gelzer said vaccines are essential protection against measles. Two doses of the MMR vaccine provide 97 percent protection; one dose provides 93 percent protection.3
"Although the transmission of infectious diseases can happen in any setting, if you are going to be attending a rather large event this summer, like a concert or sporting event, vaccination is one of the best ways to protect you and your loved ones from harmful diseases," she added.
- Measles Cases in 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html
- Measles Cases and Outbreaks. https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html
- Vaccine for Measles. https://www.cdc.gov/measles/vaccination.html