SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — As the measles outbreak grows nationwide, infectious disease experts want to remind you the vaccine is safe and effective.
On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the number of measles cases has now reached 704 across the country, the biggest since 1994 and since the disease was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.
Jeffrey Bratberg is a clinical professor of pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island. He and the CDC say most of the cases (71 percent) come from those not vaccinated.
“This is one of the most transmissible viruses we know and it’s in those close-knit communities, it spread like wildfire,” Bratberg said.
The CDC says about 37 percent of all cases involve children four years of age and younger.
The CDC says two doses are about 97 percent effective, while one dose is about 93 percent effective.
“If people are under-immunized – they only receive one shot, or they don’t get any shots at all due to personal or religious beliefs – they’re just at extraordinarily high risk for this deadly virus,” Bratberg added.
However, there are populations that should not get vaccinated.
“Pregnant women, women who are intending to become pregnant, anyone who has an immunodeficiency where their immune system isn’t working as well or they’re being treated with medications that decrease the effectiveness of their immune system,” Bratberg explained.
If you got vaccinated as a child in Rhode Island, there’s a registry system so providers can easily look it up.
“What we haven’t quite gotten over the finish line is an adult registry, which we think is going to be heard next week in the Senate, so that if there is an outbreak we can track down and vaccinate and protect any adult who’s in that system,” Bratberg said.
The symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected.