We have been getting a lot of questions from our community about who needs a measles vaccine, also known as the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine or MMR. Buncombe County Health and Human Services follows the guidelines set by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to ensure that appropriate immunization is provided to our community.
I want to make sure that I’m doing my part to protect myself and others. How can I be sure that I am protected against measles?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices considers you immune to measles if you have written records that show at least one of the following:
- You received two doses of measles-containing vaccine*, and you are —
- A school-aged child (grades K-12)
- An adult who will be in a setting that poses a high risk for measles, including students at post-high school education institutions, healthcare personnel, and international travelers
- You received one dose of measles-containing vaccine*, and you are —
- A child older than 12 months of age who has not yet entered school
- An adult who will not be in a high-risk setting for measles transmission (see above)
- A lab test confirms you had measles at some point in your life
- A lab test confirms you are immune to measles
- You were born before 1957
* Individuals who received a dose of MMR vaccine in 1963–1967 and are unsure which type of vaccine it was, or are sure it was inactivated (killed) measles vaccine, should receive one dose of MMR if low-risk or two doses of MMR if they will be in a high risk setting as defined above.?
When should children get the MMR vaccine?
- Children should get their first dose of MMR between 12-15 months of age. A second dose is due by school entry (ages 4-6 years).
- Older children and adolescents who have not had measles or been vaccinated should get two doses of MMR, at least 28 days apart.
- If a child is traveling outside of the US and is between 6-12 months of age, they should get one dose of MMR at least 2 weeks before leaving the US. These children will need two more doses of MMR, following the routine immunization schedule, starting at 12-15 months of age.
Why is the MMR vaccine not recommended for people born before 1957?
- If you were born before 1957, you are considered immune to measles. This is because you lived through several years of measles epidemics before a vaccine was available, so it is very likely you had measles. If you were born before 1957 and are concerned that you did not have measles, you should follow up with your healthcare provider to discuss the possibility of a blood test to confirm your immunity.
What should I do if I don’t know if I’m immune to measles?
- If you’re unsure whether you’re immune to measles, you should first try to find your immunization records or other written record of measles immunity. If you cannot find these records, you should get the MMR vaccine. Another option is to have your healthcare provider test your blood to determine whether you’re immune. There is no harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine if you are already immune to measles, mumps or rubella but cannot find the records.
What if I have other questions about immunizations?