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Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, (510) 981-7008

Health Officer recommends vaccination for everyone

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, May 01, 2019) - With measles cases nationally at their highest levels in 25 years, Berkeley's Health Officer urges everyone - especially those planning international travel - to make sure they have the recommended two doses of vaccine.

Measles is highly contagious: the virus is transmitted through inhalation and it can linger in the air for up to two hours after the cough or sneeze of an infected person. Someone with measles will not show symptoms for the first four days of their most contagious period - but they can still infect about 90 percent of unvaccinated people close to them.

Measles is also highly preventable: 97% of those who receive the recommended two vaccine doses of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine are immune. Even a single dose protects 93% of those vaccinated.

"Vaccination is an easy, highly effective protection from measles," said Dr. Lisa Hernandez, City of Berkeley Public Health Officer. "Protect yourself, especially before you travel abroad."

Measles can have significant health impacts, especially among infants, young children and pregnant women. Measles patients develop high fevers, red and watery eyes, high fevers, and a rash that starts on the head and face and spreads to cover most of the body. In some cases, measles can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, hospitalization or even death.

The 704 measles cases nationally this year are the most since 1994, with cases now in 22 states. California's 38 cases - none of which are in Berkeley or Alameda County - mark a threefold increase over 2018. Nearly all the current outbreaks have a similar story: an unvaccinated international traveler coming into contact with an unvaccinated US population.

Children should get the first dose at 12-15 months of age and the second dose at 4-6 years of age. A baby between 6 and 12 months who will travel internationally should receive an early dose of MMR vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adults born after 1957 should get vaccinated for measles if they did not receive the two doses as children or if they are not sure of their immune status,

If unvaccinated, unsure of your immunization status or if you've had contact with someone with measles, consult your doctor.

If you have a rash and/or if you have had contact with someone who has measles, call ahead to any medical facility before going and tell them that you may have been exposed to measles. This will allow the clinic or hospital to take measures to protect other patients and visitors.

Speak with your doctor about travel immunizations plans at least 4-6 weeks before traveling.

For general information about measles:

Information for Travelers:

Places that offer measles or other vaccines:


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