Measles Quick Facts
- Rubeola, or “red” measles, is a highly contagious respiratory disease spread by coughing, sneezing, or simply being in close contact with someone who is infected with it, even when the rash is not visible. Measles tends to be more severe in adults than in children, with a higher fever, more prominent rash, and more complications.
- Symptoms start with a fever, cough, runny nose, red irritated eyes, sore throat with tiny white spots inside the mouth and last 2-4 days before the signature itchy red rash appears on the body around the fourth or fifth day, beginning on the head and moving down the body.
- 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.
- Complications of measles can include bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis and death. Some studies have demonstrated that vitamin A reduces the risk of death and complications and that children with vitamin A deficiency, especially in underdeveloped countries, are at increased risk for measles complications. Receiving serum immune globulin 6 days after exposure to measles can mediate the severity of measles.
- 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). Globally 95 percent of deaths from measles occur in developing countries, where measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children.
- 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.
- Using the MedAlerts search engine, as of October 31, 2017, there have been more than 88,272 reports of measles vaccine reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following measles vaccinations made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including 439 related deaths, 6,110 hospitalizations, and 1,618 related disabilities. Over half of those adverse events occurred in children three years old and under. Common side effects from the MMR vaccine include low-grade fever, skin rash, itching, hives, swelling, reddening of skin, and weakness. Reported serious adverse reactions following MMR vaccination include seizures, brain inflammation and encephalopathy; thrombocytopenia; joint, muscle and nerve pain; gastrointestinal disorders; measles like rash; conjunctivitis and other serious health problems.
- As of November 28, 2017, there had been 1,231 claims filed in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) for injuries and deaths following MMR vaccination, including 81 deaths and 1,150 serious injuries.
- Evidence has been published in the medical literature that vaccinated persons can get measles because either they do not respond to the vaccine or the vaccine’s efficacy wanes over time and vaccinated mothers do not transfer long lasting maternal antibodies to their infants to protect them in the first few months of life;
Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Vaccine Reaction Symptoms & Ingredients
Our Ask 8, If You Vaccinate webpage contains vaccine reaction symptoms and more.
Search for Vaccine Reactions
NVIC hosts MedAlerts, a powerful VAERS database search engine. MedAlerts examines symptoms, reactions, vaccines, dates, places, and more.
Reporting a Vaccine Reaction
Since 1982 NVIC has operated a Vaccine Reaction Registry, which has served as a watchdog on VAERS. Reporting vaccine reactions to VAERS is the law. If your doctor will not report a reaction, you have the right to report a suspected vaccine reaction to VAERS.
IMPORTANT NOTE:NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Measles and the Measles vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
« Return to Vaccines & Diseases Table of Contents