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Public health officials warn: get your measles vaccine

A set of flu vaccines in a medical clinic.
Focal Foto
Flickr / Creative Commons
A set of flu vaccines in a medical clinic.

If you thought measles were a thing of the past, you wouldn’t exactly be wrong. According to the Mayo Clinic, the virus was considered eliminated in the year 2000 after the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine was developed, back in 1971.

But the CDC says cases are on the rise across the country right now. There have been 64 confirmed infections this year, compared to just 13 cases in 2020.

These new cases are primarily popping up in areas where people have not received their MMR vaccine. Health officials say that vaccination against measles is highly effective, and that two doses of the vaccine protects against the virus for life. They also say that more than 90 percent of recent cases have been linked to international travel, as the virus does still circulate in parts of the world where vaccination rates are low.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that causes a cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, pink eye, and a blotchy red skin rash. Most cases in the US have been in children, 12 months and older, who have not received the MMR vaccine.

The virus is transmitted through direct contact with infectious droplets, or through the air after an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. It may take symptoms up to three weeks to materialize after infection.

Overall, MMR vaccination rates are high in the Bay Area. However, for those who are unvaccinated, the virus presents the greatest risk to children under five, adults over 20, pregnant people, and people with compromised immune systems. You can access your digital vaccine record online, here.

Alastair Boone is the Director of Street Spirit newspaper, and a member of KALW's 2024 Audio Academy.