Most US travelers skip their pre-trip measles vaccine, study reveals
- More than half of measles outbreaks in the US start with a person returning from vacation abroad
- For that reason, clinical guidelines urge all citizens to get the MMR vaccination before traveling
- However, fewer than half of those eligible for the vaccine get it before their trip
More than half of American travelers eligible for the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine are not getting vaccinated before leaving the country, a study reveals.
The vast majority of measles outbreaks in the US start with a person returning from vacation abroad.
For that reason, clinical guidelines urge all citizens to get the MMR vaccination before traveling, particularly to at-risk countries.
However, analyzing national data from 2009 to 2014, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found thousands of Americans forego protection.
Fewer than half of those eligible for the vaccine get it before their trip, a new study warns
Of the 40,810 individuals included in the analysis, 6,612 (16 percent) of them were eligible for a new MMR vaccine.
But more than half of them opted not to receive the vaccine.
Most of those who refused the vaccine (74 percent), reported doing so because they were not concerned about the disease.
However, in more than a quarter of cases, the provider deemed the vaccine unnecessary.
‘Improving vaccination rates for measles is incredibly important,’ said lead author Dr Emily Hyle.
‘Measles can be a self limited disease, but also can be incredibly serious, and even life threatening, especially among the most vulnerable, such asimmuno-compromised patients, and very young children who can’t be vaccinated themselves.
‘So the way that we can protect those populations, are by having, other people vaccinated to reduce the number of importations and outbreaks.’
She added: ‘It’s particularly important to be sure that international travelers are vaccinated before they travel, because measles is much more prevalent outside of the US, so international travelers can become infected while they’re traveling abroad and then come back to the US and infect people in the US with measles.’
Measles spreads through droplets in the air, and it’s incredibly contagious.
Ninety percent of people who are not immune will become ill with measles if they’re exposed.
That exposure can be relatively mild and still contagious.
‘If somebody infected with measles walks through a room, and somebody who’s not immune walks through that same room up to two hours later, they can become ill with measles,’ Dr Hyle warns.
The findings are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
It comes just a week after news emerged of a giant outbreak in Minnesota – largely due to the low rate of vaccinations in the Somali-American community.