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Measles: Make Sure Your Child Is Fully Immunized

Measles is a highly contagious disease. It can be serious for young children. Protect your child by making sure he or she is up to date on vaccinations, including before traveling abroad.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. Measles starts with a 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 for young children. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death.

How Measles Spreads

Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.

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, since measles is still common in parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa, measles is brought into the United States by people who get infected while they are abroad.

You can protect your child 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.

Your child's doctor may offer the MMRV vaccine, a combination vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox).  

Protect Your Child from Measles. Measles is still common in many parts of the world. Unvaccinated travelers who get measles in other countries continue to bring the disease into the U.S. Give your child the best protection against measles with 2 doses of MMR vaccine: 1st does at 12-15 months; 2nd dose at 4-6 years.

Protect Yourself against Measles

Some adults need a measles vaccine too. For more information, see Measles Vaccination: Who Needs It?

More Information 

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):