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Over the past year, the number of measles cases in the U.S. continues to rise, with most of the reported illnesses in children.
To bring awareness to this very important issue, Michael Caplan, MD, of NorthShore University HealthSystem and Frank Belmonte, DO, MPH, of Advocate Children's Hospital—both co-chief medical officers of our joint pediatric partnership—were part of a news conference endorsing the MMR vaccine for children and provided the following statement:
“The pediatric health care professionals at NorthShore University HealthSystem and our partners in pediatrics at Advocate Children’s Hospital, strongly endorse vaccinating children against the measles.
“Immunizations have saved millions of children’s lives in the last 50 years. The MMR, (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Family Physicians; among the most knowledgeable health care professionals in the world. Research has proven immunizations to be safe and effective. The Federal Food and Drug Administration approves all vaccines and research is ongoing.
“A critical level of immunizations must be reached in a community to protect those most at risk for complications. If children are immunized, it also protects those too young to be vaccinated, children with chronic health issues, pregnant women and senior citizens who are most vulnerable,” they said.
Vaccinations provide protection for everyone in the community, including those receiving chemotherapy for cancer who are unable to receive the inoculations themselves.
What You Need to Know About Measles:
Measles is a viral respiratory illness that is extremely contagious, infecting nearly 90 percent of unvaccinated people who come into contact with it. It’s spread through the air (via coughing/sneezing), so people standing in the airspace around the infected person can become infected by breathing in these respiratory droplets.
Measles symptoms develop approximately 8-12 days after exposure, and can include a high fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and white-to-bluish spots may appear in the mouth. The rash occurs 3-5 days after symptoms first appear, which begins on the face but quickly spreads downward, covering the body.
Those who have contracted measles are at their most contagious four days prior to the appearance of the rash, meaning they are extremely contagious before they themselves are aware of the virus.
Before the vaccine, more than three to four million people in the U.S. would contract the measles virus each year. Individuals who contract the virus can develop mild-to-severe complications including pneumonia, blindness, deafness, brain swelling, permanent neurological damage and even death.
For more information about the measles vaccine, contact your child’s pediatrician for any questions, concerns or the recommended schedule of vaccinations.