The Measles Vaccine, Moving Forward

Four new measles cases reported in Pittsburgh

But as of April 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there have been 704 confirmed cases of measles since January 1 spread from coast to coast.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, as of April 26, there have been 704 confirmed cases of measles across the country.

Free MMR vaccine is only available for children participating in the Vaccines for Children Program and for certain individuals who may qualify based upon local health department fee schedules. Vermont public health officials have been working for years to raise vaccination rates for measles and other communicable diseases. For every 1,000 people diagnosed with measles, one to two people will die.

The measles virus is highly contagious and can cause blindness, deafness, brain damage or death. Symptoms typically appear 1-to-3 weeks after infection and include: rash; high fever; cough; nasal congestion; and red, watery eyes. Some people may develop blue-white spots on the insides of their mouths. According to the World Health Organization "measles...has seen a 30% increase in cases globally".

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People are contagious from four days before the rash develops until four days after.

Early Measles Vaccination Normally, the MMR vaccine is given in two doses with the first at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at 4 to 6 years of age.

Merck, the sole US supplier of measles vaccines, said the increased demand was noticeable, but did not amount to a surge, and has not required a significant increase in distribution across the country.

He said there are pockets of demand for the vaccine around areas where there have been cases of measles.

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Those at higher risk - whom the agency advises to get two doses for good measure - might work in health care, travel internationally or be more likely to be affected by an outbreak.

The Ministry of Health has assured that a cruise liner now held under quarantine in St. Lucia after a single outbreak on board is not scheduled to dock at Bridgetown.

State public health departments across the country are sounding the alarm about measles, warning the public that vaccinations save lives and family who don't vaccinate their children endanger others.

For people in the midst of an outbreak who can't get vaccinated, are unsure about their status or think they might be infected, public health experts recommend limiting contact that could spread the virus - including keeping unvaccinated kids home from school.

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