Feb. 02 2015

Exploding Measles Myths

The measles vaccine is safe and protective while measles is highly contagious and life-threatening. What don't people understand?

Since December, more than 100 people in 14 states have been infected with measles in an outbreak traced to Disneyland and enabled by parents who chose to not inoculate their children against the disease.

In a new video, Melissa Stockwell, a pediatrician and assistant professor of Population and Family Health and assistant professor of Pediatrics, debunks seven common myths about measles and vaccines, from fears over side effects to the idea that immunizations aren't necessary.

  • According to Stockwell, 95 percent of children are immune from measles after the first dose, given at 12 to 15 months. After the second dose at 4 to 6 years, nearly all children are immune.
  • For someone who isn't immunized, "measles is incredibly contagious," she says. If they enter a room even two hours after someone who had measles was in the room, they can get the life-threatening illness. Nine our of ten people who are susceptible to measles and who are exposed actually come down with measles.

The Disneyland outbreak, Stockwell says, "starkly shows how important it is that we continue to vaccinate people against these vaccine-preventable diseases."