The MMR vaccine is still being given at 12 months of age, followed by a “booster” dose at 4-6 years old.
By Sue Hubbard, M.D.
Most of the discussion about the current measles outbreak revolves around those who choose NOT to vaccinate. But on the other side of the story, many anxious parents have called me wanting to make sure their children’s MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is up to date. In fact, some are so anxious they want to vaccinate their children “ahead of schedule.”
One mother has an almost 4-year-old son, who his first MMR vaccination on schedule when he was a year old. She called and asked if she could bring him in three months before his 4th birthday, “just to make sure he’s OK.”
I assured her that there was not an indication to vaccinate him early and that I’d see him later this spring for his routine checkup. She was relieved...as was her son!
Several other parents have called and asked if they should bring their 6-, 7- or 8-month- old babies in to have their MMR vaccinations even before their 1-year checkup. The current recommendations have not changed, however, and the MMR vaccine is still being given at 12 months of age, followed by a “booster” dose at 4-6 years old.
There are recommendations to immunize children between 6-12 months old who are traveling internationally. Many countries have far more measles cases than what we’re currently seeing in the United States. For information on travel and measles vaccine, go to www.cdc.gov.
I remember being a young physician in the late ‘80s, when there was an epidemic of measles. The first time I saw a case of measles was in 1990, and I myself had a young baby at the time. There were over 55,000 cases of measles in the U.S. and over 120 deaths during the epidemic.
Due to the extent of that epidemic, a recommendation was made to give any infant over 6 months old a measles vaccine, knowing they were not getting fabulous protection, but better than none. This group, including my now 25-year-old son, then received MMR vaccine between the ages of 12-15 months, and again at 4-6 years.
With regard to the current situation, stay tuned. With new cases cropping up, this story is unfortunately not over.
FYI: If you do NOT know you or child’s vaccination status, it doesn’t hurt to get another MMR vaccination.
Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. “The Kid’s Doctor” TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com. The Kid’s Doctor e-book, “Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today’s Teen,” is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.
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This column was printed in the March 8, 2015 - March 21, 2015 edition.