The Best Defense Against Measles When You're Traveling

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In the past year, measles has made a resurgence in the United States and throughout the world.

“Measles outbreaks continue to occur in a variety travel destinations, including Western Europe, which increases the likelihood of coming into contact with someone with the disease, particularly while traveling,” says Keith Armitage, MD, Medical Director of University Hospitals Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine. “Getting vaccinated is the best defense to protect yourself.”

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease characterized by a high fever and rash. Nearly 10 million people get measles every year; 110,000 of whom die from the disease or its complications.

These countries currently are experiencing measles outbreaks: Israel, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Ukraine, England, Brazil, the Philippines, and more.

How to Protect Yourself Against Measles

Anyone who has not been vaccinated against measles or has not had measles in the past is at risk of getting infected when they travel.

If your trip is less than two weeks away and you are not protected against measles, one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is still recommended. One dose provides 93 percent protection against measles.

People traveling internationally should be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to departure.

Adults born between 1957 and 1980 were most likely not given MMR or only given one MMR dose. To maximize protection, these adults should get vaccinated and/or have a second vaccine.

The MMR vaccine is not recommended for infants younger than 6 months. One dose of measles vaccine is recommended for infants ages 6 to 11 months. Infants vaccinated before age 1 should be revaccinated on or after their first birthday with two doses, separated by at least 28 days.

Related links

Protect yourself against food and water poisoning while traveling abroad. Watch the video.

To schedule an appointment for an MMR vaccine, make an in-person or virtual pre-travel appointment at the Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine, your health care provider or local health department or pharmacy.

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