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Measles Disease & Vaccine Information

FInd the Information You Need to Make an Informed Vaccine Decision

Measles Rubeola
Image source: CDC PHIL

Measles: The Disease

Measles, rubeola, or “red” measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is spread through the air by respiratory droplets, or by coming in contact with nasal discharge/mucous of an infected person. This disease can be transmitted very easily in areas where people are together in close quarters and symptoms begin 10-12 days after close contact with an infected individual. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis, white spots in the mouth and progresses to a rash that starts on the face.

The majority of measles cases in the U.S. resolve without complication, though serious complications can occur.1 According to the CDC, Americans born before 1957 have naturally acquired immunity to measles. Infants born to mothers, who have had measles and acquired natural antibodies, benefit from a passive maternal immunity passed on to them by their mothers to protect them as newborns. There also is evidence that unvaccinated mothers, who have recovered from measles, can pass short-term measles immunity to their infants when they breastfeed their babies. Learn more about Measles…

Measles Vaccine

Measles vaccine is a weakened (attenuated) form of the live measles virus. Currently, there are 2 available vaccines for use in the U.S. The CDC recommends that children get two doses of the MMR vaccine with the first dose given between ages 12-15 months, and the second dose given between ages 4-6 years.2 CDC recommendations state that persons age 18 or older, who were born in 1957 or later, should get at least one dose of MMR if there is no laboratory evidence of naturally acquired measles immunity or documentation that a measles vaccine was given on or after the first birthday. Learn more about Measles vaccine…

Measles Quick Facts


  • After coming in contact with someone infected with measles, the incubation period from initial exposure to onset of the rash is between seven and 18 days, with an average of 14 days. The period leading up to the appearance of the rash is characterized by a rising fever that peaks at 103-105 degrees F.
  • In 1960, three years before the first measles vaccine was licensed in the U.S., there were 380 deaths from measles recorded. Today, deaths from measles are rare in the U.S. (an average of 1 per year). Continue reading quick facts…

Measles Vaccine

  • Currently there are two measles containing vaccines being used in the U.S - MMRII - a combination measles-mumps-rubella(MMR) live virus vaccine and ProQuad- a combination measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMR-V) live virus vaccine. Both products are produced and distributed by Merck. The CDC recommends children get an MMR shot between 12 and 15 months of age with a second dose given between 4 and 6 years old.
  • As of November 30, 2018, there have been more than 92,844 reports of measles vaccine reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following measles vaccinations made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including 457 related deaths, 6,902 hospitalizations, and 1,736 related disabilities. Over 50% of those adverse events occurred in children three years old and under...Continue reading quick facts...

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1 CDC. Measles – Severe Complications. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th Edition. Pg 210. April 2015.

2 CDC.gov. Vaccines. Recommended Immunization Schedule for persons aged 0 through 6 years . Dec. 23, 2011. Online. (Accessed March 2012)

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