Measles is a highly contagious airborne disease that lives in the respiratory droplets of an infected person and spread to others with sneezing and coughing. The droplets can remain in the air for several hours and on contaminated surfaces for up to two hours. Measles is so contagious, that nearly 90% of people who are not protected will become infected following exposure. 1

Measles can affect people of all ages but it is most common and extremely dangerous for babies and young children. Some people may suffer severe complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis.2 Though measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, it is still common in many other parts of the world. Local cases of measles are often linked to travel or exposure during recent travel. Across the globe, measles is one of the leading causes of vaccine preventable deaths among children.

The best protection against measles, is the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine which has been proven to be 97% effective after two doses, at preventing the spread of the virus.3 Washington provides MMR and MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella) vaccines at no cost for children under 18. It is important to talk to your health care provider to determine if, and when, the MMR vaccine is right for you. Some people may be ineligible to receive the vaccine, and in some cases your provider may recommend postponing vaccination. 4, 5

Vaccines are available at most doctors’ offices, local pharmacies, and vaccination clinics. If you are interested in accessing your family’s immunization history, MyIR Mobile allows you to view and print your records, as well as receive reminders for future immunizations.

Additional Information: 

Measles (Rubeola) | CDC
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) | Washington State Department of Health
Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) Vaccine Information Statement | CDC
CDC Fact Sheets for Parents: English | Spanish

Content sources:  

[1] Transmission of Measles | CDC
[2] Measles Complications | CDC
[3] Measles Vaccines for Children | CDC
[4] Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) | Washington State Department of Health
[5] Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccination | CDC