Pediatricians: Measles vaccine is safe and effective

  • Pediatricians urge parents to have their children vaccinated against measles.

    Pediatricians urge parents to have their children vaccinated against measles. Getty Images

  • Dr. Frank Belmonte

    Dr. Frank Belmonte

 
By Dr. Frank Belmonte
Advocate Children’s Hospital

The message from pediatric health care professionals is a simple one. Get your children immunized.

With five cases of measles in Illinois and outbreaks in other parts of the nation, it is important for parents to get educated on the immunization issue.

The MMR vaccine, which immunizes children against the measles, mumps and rubella is extremely safe and effective.

Measles is highly contagious and is caused by a virus. It spreads in the air, when someone sneezes or coughs, and can last in the environment for up to two hours after the infected person has left the area. Contact with secretions from an infected nose or throat also prompts its spread.

Parents need to understand that not immunizing your children puts them at greater risk for getting the measles. You are also endangering other children, many with compromised immune systems, like cancer patients, at risk for complications that could take their lives.

The MMR vaccine is safe and effective. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1971, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA continuously monitor its use.

The sore arm, low fever or mild rash your child might experience after the vaccine is well worth the protection it provides to them and those around them.

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According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, death from measles has occurred in recent years at a rate of 2 to 3 children per 1,000 getting the measles.

Measles cases dropped significantly, almost totally, when effective school immunization programs were in place. Unfortunately, anti-vaccination promoters and rogue information on the internet have largely contributed to the increase we are seeing today.

I encourage parents to educate themselves with the sources of truth about immunizations. I suggest the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Adults who have not been immunized are also susceptible and can be given the vaccine.

• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Dr. Frank Belmonte, DO, MPH, chief medical officer, Advocate Children's Hospital. Dr. Belmonte is also a board-certified pediatrician.

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