Pediatrician breaks down how measles, mumps and rubella vaccine works

Denise Dador Image
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Pediatrician breaks down how MMR vaccine works
A local pediatrician breaks down how the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine works.

LOS ANGELES -- If you're in your 50s and 60s, chances are you don't know where your vaccination records are. so should you get the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine? A local pediatrician breaks down how the vaccine works.

At Santa Monica High School, it was business as usual after parents got word over the weekend that a baseball coach contracted measles. Health officials say it's unlikely the disease will spread since every member of the baseball team was vaccinated.

Doctors say the MMR vaccine is the best protection we have, but it doesn't guarantee 100 percent immunity to everyone.

In the outbreak traced to a mid-December exposure in Disneyland, of the 34 California patients with vaccination records, officials say 28 weren't vaccinated.

Five were fully vaccinated and one, partially vaccinated.

Pediatrician Dr. Catherine Hurley says you need two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, with the first one given at 12 to 15 months of age.

"Ninety-five percent of children that get the first vaccine can have lifelong immunity. We give that second vaccine to kind of give that extra bang for your buck, and the studies have shown that it can incur a 99 percent lifelong immunity with that second one," Hurley said.

So if you've got a young child who's only had the first shot so far, Hurley says do your best to keep your family healthy.

"Focus on your situation, your family, what you can do to keep your child healthy," Hurley said. "That's what we have control over. We don't have control over who is the in the classroom with you."

Adults born before 1957 have most likely acquired immunity because of exposure. But if you were born after 1957, and before the measles vaccine was available in 1963, it's possible your immune system may need a boost.

If you're unsure, Hurley says start with your doctor.

"Their doctor will sometimes have access to information they don't, so they could be given direction right away as far as what their needs are to keep them the safest as adults," Hurley said.

A blood test can tell you for sure how immune you are.

Pediatricians say since the outbreak, some parents have been asking if they can get the second MMR shot earlier for their kids. Right now, doctors say it's not necessary.

The current American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation is for the second dose to be given before a child enters kindergarten.

For full coverage on the measles outbreak, click here.