Measles is a highly contagious disease. It can be serious for young children. Parents can protect their children by making sure they are up to date on the measles vaccine, including before traveling abroad.
Children Need 2 Doses of Measles Vaccine
Parents can protect their children against measles with a combination vaccine that provides protection against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). The MMR vaccine is proven to be very safe and effective. CDC recommends that children get one dose at each of the following ages:
- 12 through 15 months
- 4 through 6 years
Make Sure Patients Are Protected Before International Travel
Before any international travel—
- Infants 6—11 months old need 1 dose of measles vaccine*
- Children 12 months and older need 2 doses separated by at least 28 days
- Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity** against measles should get 2 doses separated by at least 28 days
Before your patients leave for their trips, direct them to check the CDC Travel Notices on measles.
*Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses according to the routinely recommended schedule (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose at 4 through 6 years of age or at least 28 days later).
**Acceptable evidence of immunity against measles includes at least one of the following: written documentation of adequate vaccination, laboratory evidence of immunity, laboratory confirmation of measles, or birth in the United States before 1957.
Measles Can Be Serious
Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads to others through coughing and sneezing. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.
Measles starts with a high fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles can be serious. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death.
Measles in the U.S.
Measles cases and outbreaks have been reported in the U.S. in 2019. See Measles Cases and Outbreaks for details.
People in the United States still get measles, but it’s not very common. That’s because most people in this country are protected against measles through vaccination. However, measles is still common in other parts of the world. Every year, unvaccinated people get measles while they are abroad, bring the disease into the United States, and spread it to others.
Measles can spread quickly in communities where people are not vaccinated. Anyone who is not protected against measles, including children too young to be vaccinated, are at risk of getting infected. That’s why it is so important to be up to date on vaccinations, including before traveling abroad.
Additional Resources for Parents and Childcare Providers
See resources for parents and others who care for children, including childcare providers.
Paying for Measles Vaccine
Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. But parents and patients may want to check with their health insurance provider before going to the doctor. Learn how to pay for vaccines.
If patients don’t have insurance or if insurance does not cover vaccines for their child, the Vaccines for Children Program may be able to help. This program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. Parents can find out if their child is eligible, by visiting the VFC website or asking their child’s doctor. They can also contact your state VFC coordinator.