Measles vaccination booster advised for adults

WASHINGTON — The measles vaccine is not just for kids. Many adults are unaware that they need a booster shot.

With confirmed cases in Virginia, there is a push to make sure that not just children, but adults are fully protected as well.

As a rule, the Centers for Disease Control recommends anyone born after 1957 get a booster if they don’t have a vaccination record or can’t confirm they had the disease as a child.

Pamela Prindle, the nursing director for the immunization clinic at Foxhall Internists in D.C. says most people don’t have the proper documentation and that it is probably best to err on the side of caution.

“In this day and age, it behooves you to get a measles booster,” she says, adding all health care workers should be first in line.

“It is required in hospitals,” says Prindle. “You can’t work there unless you’ve shown you’ve had measles protection either by vaccination or disease.”

Anyone who works with children should also get a booster, as well as international travelers. There are measles epidemics in some countries — most notably the Philippines, which has been tied to a measles outbreak in California. But Prindle says visitors to just about every developing country should consider getting a measles, mumps, and rubella booster before heading abroad.

It’s not because measles is dangerous to adults. The problem occurs when adults pass on the disease to children — especially tiny babies who are too young to be vaccinated. Children typically get their first dose at 12 months of age, and Prindle says no one wants to be the carrier who gives measles to an infant. She warns, “Newborn babies could die of measles, just as they can die of whooping cough.”

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