Measles, a disease that was declared eradicated in 2000 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been documented in around 700 cases among 22 states in 2019.
Much of the resurgence has been in children whose parents chose not to have them vaccinated for the disease.
Prior to the vaccine being available in 1963, three to four million Americans got the disease each year.
Now, questions are arising whether people who had the measles as a child or those vaccinated against it decades ago need another vaccination.
Fortunately, a simple blood test can determine if you need a booster of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Doctors can use the test to determine your immunity levels by detecting antibodies that fight measles.
People who were either not vaccinated or received one from 1963 through 1967 may have a weakened immune level for the disease. That’s because a version of the vaccination given in that timespan proved to not work as well as the version that is still used today.
If you don’t mind getting the shot, you can skip the blood test and get another vaccination. Getting another vaccination if you are already immune will not do any damage to your body.
The CDC recommends that adults who do not have evidence of immunity should get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine. In some cases, including healthcare professionals, should receive two doses at least 28 days apart. There are exceptions to the recommendation, including pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems due to diseases like cancer or HIV/AIDS. All of the information about the MMR vaccine can be found here.
As a general guideline, the CDC says you do not need the vaccine if you were born before 1957 because nearly everyone was infected with the virus as a child. However, if you’re unsure, the blood test can confirm your immunity.