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Measles - what you can do for you and your family

What is Measles? 

Measles is a nasty disease. It is a highly infectious viral illness. Measles starts with cold-like symptoms that develop about 10 days after you get infected. You will then get a measles rash a few days later. The illness usually lasts 7 to 10 days. Find out more about symptoms on the HSE website.

What do I need to do ?

Despite the fact that we have a really effective vaccine, people in Ireland are now getting infected with measles again. This is probably because not enough people are already vaccinated. When we had almost everybody in the country who was at risk of measles, fully vaccinated, the disease just didn’t appear at all, but, in recent years, doctors have noticed that the numbers of people who are fully vaccinating their babies with all the childhood vaccinations has slipped a little.The problem with measles is that it’s very very infectious. And, it’s a very serious disease for babies to get.

We all remember that Covid 19 was very infectious. The public health doctors used to talk about the R rate. This is the rate at which the virus spreads from one infected person to infect many others. You might remember that when the R -rate for Covid went above one or 1.2 or 1.5, the public health doctors became very worried. A R rate of 1.2 or 1.5 meant that for every single person infected with Covid, 1.2 or 1.5 other people will become infected. So, the virus will spread, as long as the R rate is greater than 1. The R rate for measles is about 12. This is why it’s so contagious. If one little baby has measles, it will spread very rapidly to at least 12 other people. It’s an airborne virus so it can spread like wildfire throughout a building - you will catch measles without even having to touch another person who is carrying the virus. And, sadly, unvaccinated people who come into contact with measles are infectious with the virus for more than a week before they’ve even developed symptoms. And they will remain infectious for about 3 weeks altogether. 

This is why the MMR vaccine is so important and how it saves lives.

MMR vaccination program is very effective if over 90% of the population are fully vaccinated. The problem is at the moment that some children and young adults missed out on vaccination when they were babies, and so as these children start to mix with other unvaccinated children and adults, measles will eventually come back into the community and quickly spread. What does measles look like? Babies and small children with measles can be very very sick. It often starts with a very runny nose and a high fever. Usually the rash starts on the back of the neck and then rapidly spreads all over the body. If you or any of your children haven’t had MMR vaccine yet please make sure to get that vaccine now.

The vaccination will make sure that you are immune to measles for life, and that you will never spread the infection to someone else or to one of your babies or children. Young adults who missed out on vaccination, when they were babies, are particularly at risk, because they may or may not know whether or not they’ve ever had a measles vaccine. Adults can become sick, or even die of measles, and will certainly spread it if they become infected.

If you’re not sure whether or not you’ve had measles vaccine in childhood, you can be vaccinated now as an adult so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you feel you might need measles vaccine now. 

And if any of your children haven’t been vaccinated yet please make sure to vaccinate them immediately. 

Just pop us an email, Phone or get in touch with the practice and our lovely nurse Emma is here to vaccinate you and your family now.

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