Unfortunately, measles have made a comeback in the United States.
Current measles cases in the U.S. are the highest documented since measles was eradicated 19 years ago, according to a recent Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) media statement. Two recent outbreaks in New York and Washington State are to blame for the largest and longest-lasting cases since 2000.
As an employer, you may be wondering how you can protect your staff.
Fortunately, it’s as simple as encouraging the MMR vaccine, which protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella.
Here’s some insight as to what measles is, what the current vaccine recommendations are, and how to protect your staff.
What is Measles?
Measles is a highly contagious infection caused by a virus. While it’s known as a childhood infection, it can also impact adults and be transmitted to children. This viral infection can sometimes be fatal to children.
Measles symptoms may include:
- High fever
- Red, watery eyes
- Skin rash
- Runny nose
Measles symptoms often appear between seven to 14 days after a person has been infected. Tiny white spots may show up inside the mouth as well.
Measles complications may include:
- Ear infection
- Pregnancy issues
What Causes Measles and How Does it Spread?
This highly contagious illness is a virus. It’s spread when the infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes, much like the common cold. Others could potentially inhale these droplets and become infected.
It can also be spread if infected droplets land on a surface like a tabletop where they remain spreadable for hours. If you touch an infected surface — then touch your face — you could potentially contract measles.
Current MMR Vaccination Recommendations
The measles vaccine changed in 1971 when it was combined to create the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella vaccine). Today, it’s administered in two doses.
What’s the current schedule’s effectiveness?
- 97% effectiveness with two doses
- One dose is around 93% effective
The vaccine is recommended for those born after 1957 who haven’t been vaccinated, along with infants older than 6 months.
For anyone who notices a rash resembling measles, it’s important to call your doctor immediately. Anyone in a household with someone infected with measles should also take precaution. This is especially important to note for exposed employees who may be working in fields with autoimmune compromised individuals or children.
Ways to prevent the spread of measles:
- Vaccinate - Vaccination is often seen as the first line of defense against infectious diseases. It’s especially important to get vaccinated prior to international travel. According to the CDC, most of the people who contract measles are unvaccinated.
- Isolation - Like with many contagious infections, it’s important to isolate the infected person. Non-immunized persons should stay away from anyone with measles.
- Educate - The only way for people to understand the seriousness of contracting infections like measles is to spread the word. Share facts, CDC press releases, videos, and more to educate employees.
Consider an Onsite Vaccination Clinic
The easy way to prevent an outbreak is prevention.
The recent measles outbreak of 2019 started through importation when unvaccinated travelers brought the disease back into the U.S. into an undervaccinated population.
For those who have experienced measles, immunity is built up. Citizens who were born or living in the U.S. prior to 1957 are likely immune to measles due to exposure.
For others, the measles vaccine can be a lifesaver.
Because of the 764 reported measles cases, TotalWellness has decided to offer MMR vaccines.
By doing so, we hope to promote widespread immunity (also known as herd immunity) and prevent a comeback of this disease that once was eradicated. As an employer, you can protect your employees — especially those with children — by hosting an onsite vaccination clinic. To learn more about the MMR vaccine, check out our podcast episode with Dr. Tom Safranek.
"This current outbreak is deeply troubling and I call upon all healthcare providers to assure patients about the efficacy and safety of the measles vaccine," said CDC Director Robert Redfield in a recent CDC media statement.
"And, I encourage all Americans to adhere to CDC vaccine guidelines in order to protect themselves, their families, and their communities from measles and other vaccine preventable diseases,” said Redfield. “We must work together as a nation to eliminate this disease once and for all."
Ready to protect your staff? Contact us today to learn more about onsite vaccination clinics!