Should I Get A Measles Vaccine?

Given that the United States is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of measles since 1994, many people are rightly concerned about their immunity to the disease. So should we all go out and get a booster vaccine? The answer is “maybe.” If you were born before 1957, you were almost certainly exposed to measles and therefore have lifelong immunity. These people don’t need a measles vaccine today.

If you were born between 1957 and 1989, you probably only received one dose of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. The thinking is that 92% of those people will have immunity for life. Because 92% immunity rate is good, but not great, in 1989 we started giving two doses, which increased the rate of immunity to higher than 98%.

Interestingly, people born between 1967 and 1976 have the highest rate of failure to achieve immunity to measles (up to 20% of them may not actually be immune). For this reason, if you were born between these years, it may make sense for you to receive a single booster shot of the MMR vaccine. It may also make sense if you were born between 1957 and 1989, but not between 1967 and 1976, especially if you live or are planning to travel to areas where there’s been an outbreak (say, Brooklyn!). Also, as new areas may develop in the future given the strength of the anti-vaxxer movement, you might want to receive a booster even if you’re not living in or planning to travel to an area in which there’s been a break out.

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  • I appreciate this so much, Alex! Especially given our plans to visit Brooklyn soon! 🙁