Measles has been around for centuries:
In the 9th century, a Persian doctor published one of the first written accounts of measles disease.
Francis Home, a Scottish physician, demonstrated in 1757 that measles is caused by an infectious agent in the blood of patients.
In 1912, measles became a nationally notifiable disease in the United States, requiring U.S. healthcare providers and laboratories to report all diagnosed cases. In the first decade of reporting, an average of 6,000 measles-related deaths were reported each year.
In the decade before 1963 when a vaccine became available, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. It is estimated 3 to 4 million people in the United States were infected each year. Also each year, among reported cases, an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles.
The first measles vaccine was developed in 1963 with the second and better vaccine made available in 1968.
I recall having measles in the mid-1950s. In fact, my 2 older brothers and I all came down with the measles on the same day. Back then, it was common for most kids to get the measles and we thought it was no big deal, but just a part of growing up.
Since measles vaccines were developed and widely distributed, many thought the disease has been pretty much eradicated. Then came the controversy over vaccines and their possible relationship with autism, which made a number of parents opt against having their kids vaccinated and guess what?
Yep, measles is making an epic comeback with this years seeing more cases that have been seen in decades.
According to the CDC:
Measles can be prevented with MMR vaccine. The vaccine protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. MMR vaccine is given later than some other childhood vaccines because antibodies transferred from the mother to the baby can provide some protection from disease and make the MMR vaccine less effective until about 1 year of age.
But what about those who got vaccines in the early days or those of us who had the measles so were never vaccinated? Are we still immune to the spotty disease?
According to Healthline:
Most people born before 1957 are thought to have been infected naturally with the virus through measles outbreaks. However, there are some who are not immune.
Doctors can check a patient’s immunity levels with a blood test to detect antibodies that fight measles.
People born before 1957 who have had the lab testing that shows they are not immune and may be at high risk should have one dose of the MMR vaccine and then a second dose 28 days later.
You are at high risk if you travel during an outbreak, are near travel hubs or destinations, or are a healthcare provider. You could be at risk if you only got one dose of the vaccine.
“Same goes for people whose blood tests show they are not immune,” Piwoz added.
The live version of the vaccine introduced in 1963 appears to have worked well, but there was another version (the “killed” version) that did not. That was also administered between 1963 and 1967.
Therefore, people who either received the killed version of the measles vaccine or don’t know what kind they received in the 1960s should be re-immunized, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Trusted Source (CDC).
Since measles has not been eradicated and is making a comeback, it is highly recommended that everyone gets an MMR vaccine. If you had a vaccine back in the early days, you should probably be tested to see if you are immune or not. For the many others who had the measles when they were kids, you also need to be tested, especially if you have a weakened immune system.