Measles Outbreak: How to Protect Yourself from Measles Cases

Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus transmitted through respiratory particles via coughing and sneezing. The droplets left behind after a cough or sneeze can infect someone up to two hours after the infected person leaves the room. Symptoms generally begin seven to 14 days after exposure. Recently, a measles outbreak occurred in the United States due to unvaccinated people contracting it. Learn how to protect yourself from measles cases.

Why are we talking about measles now?

The U.S. considered measles cases eliminated since 2000, yet we continue to see a measles outbreak each year. However, no infections occurred within the U.S. Virtually all cases reported in the U.S. in the last 20 years occurred in foreign visitors or Americans who contracted the illness while visiting a foreign country. Nearly all measles cases have been from unvaccinated individuals.

As of early May 2019, more than 800 cases of measles have been identified in the U.S. across 23 states, the highest number of cases in a single year since 1994. Some of the hardest-hit measles outbreak areas have significant international tourism, including in the Northeast and along the West Coast. Florida has four high-risk counties: Broward, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Hillsborough.

What are the symptoms of measles?

Measles is best known for a red-spotted rash that starts at the head. It works its way down across the torso and then to the arms and legs. Infected individuals can spread measles four days before the rash appears and up to four days after the rash appears. Other symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. These symptoms can progress and lead to pneumonia (one in 20 cases), a brain infection called encephalitis (one in 1,000 cases), or deafness (rare). People with a compromised immune system have a much higher risk of complications. These include those on dialysis or on chemotherapy as their weak immune system can’t fight off the infection well.

The infection can have devastating effects on children and pregnant women. Measles can lead to death in about 1 to 2 in 1,000 children with the infection. Pregnant women can have a miscarriage, stillborn, or preterm birth. In addition, they can deliver particularly low birth weight infants.

Overall, up to one in four people with measles can become sick enough to require hospitalization. Pregnant women with measles are more likely to need hospitalization than other sectors of the population.

How to protect yourself from measles

We can prevent contracting measles with the MMR vaccine. This vaccine can also fight mumps and rubella before exposure. Also, a vaccine called MMRV adds protection against Varicella or chickenpox. Due to measles’ high contractility, an exposed, unvaccinated person can easily contact the disease.

Furthermore, no antibiotic exists to help measles making the vaccine especially important. Treatment includes supportive care, such as rest and fluids for infected individuals who can manage at home. Some people who become extremely sick may require IV fluids and even ventilators.

When should I vaccinate?

Children should be vaccinated twice beginning with the first dose at age 12 to 15 months and the second dose at age 4 to 6 years. If you plan to travel abroad with a baby less than one-year-old, the CDC recommends a single MMR dose for infants ages six through 11 months. Children less than six months old are generally not vaccinated and may get the benefit of their mother’s antibodies that circulated in her system while she was pregnant with the baby, as long as the mother was vaccinated prior to pregnancy. Exercise considerable caution when traveling with an unvaccinated infant to areas where measles cases have been reported. Two doses of vaccine provide a 97 percent protection rate against a measles outbreak.

What can I do if I’m not sure I’m vaccinated?

If you were born before 1957, you do not need to be vaccinated. Measles was so prevalent at that time period that it is extremely likely you are immune. The measles vaccine first became available in 1963. If you were born after 1957 and you are not sure if you have been vaccinated, a simple blood test can tell you if you have immunity. If you are not immune and are college-age, the two-dose course of vaccinations is recommended. The two doses should be separated by at least one month. If you are between 20 and early 60s, your immunity may have waned, and you should consider either the blood test or a single booster dose of MMR. Health care workers should consider the full two-dose course of treatment if they are not immune by a blood test.

Can pregnant women be vaccinated?

Experts consider MMR a live vaccine. This means it represents a diluted dose of a live vaccine. Because of that, doctors do not advise a dosage during pregnancy. Reports exist of women who received the vaccine by accident in pregnancy in which there have not been noted reports of bad outcomes for the mother or baby.

However, if you have plans of becoming pregnant, undergo a measles immunity blood test prior to conception. If not immune, you can get the MMR vaccine. Furthermore, plan to wait at least four weeks after the vaccination before trying to conceive. During pregnancy, if you receive a test with no immunity, get vaccinated after delivery. You can still breastfeed after the vaccine.

Contracting measles while pregnant

If a pregnant woman contracts measles or suspected to not have immunity, she should consult her provider for specialized medical treatment. Measles immunoglobulin can be given via IV within six days of exposure to decrease the risk of infection. If you have additional questions on the MMR vaccine, be sure to ask your Women’s Care Florida provider.

What Vaccines Do I Need? Recommended Vaccines for Adults

You do your best to lead a healthy life. You exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet, and get a good night’s sleep. Also, you don’t smoke, drink excessively, or let stress get the best of you. Furthermore, you feel you protect your health well. However, you might be missing the recommended vaccines for adults.

The importance of vaccines for adults

According to a 2016 release put out by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:

“80% of adults ages 19 and older have not received recommended vaccinations to protect them against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). More than 70 percent of adults ages 60 and older have not received recommended shingles vaccinations.”

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases states that 50,000 adults die annually from vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. This surpasses the number of adult deaths caused by breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, or traffic accidents. According to a recent survey put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

“The prevalence of illness attributable to vaccine-preventable diseases is greater among adults than among children.”

Why some adults don’t vaccinate

We emphasize childhood vaccine importance. However, these findings may still surprise you. Moreover, the CDC offers a number of factors that contribute to low awareness among adults. These include limited public awareness and a lack of health insurance. In addition, patients tend to seek care when sick rather than focus on preventative care. Furthermore, a lot of misinformation on vaccines exist. Despite the fact that studies support vaccine safety, adults still don’t trust them.

Adult immunizations

Most adults know that doctors strongly recommend the flu vaccine annually. However, many don’t realize other adult immunizations exist. These depend on age, health conditions, and other factors. For example, everyone should consider protection against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and shingles. Also, depending on your childhood vaccinations, you may need immunization against HPV, chickenpox, and other diseases.

Below is a list of recommended vaccines for adults. However, for a full list and a schedule on when to take them, contact your primary care doctor.

  • Influenza vaccination
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Td/Tdap) vaccination
  • Varicella vaccination
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination
  • Zoster vaccination
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccination
  • Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13) vaccination
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV23) vaccination
  • Revaccination with PPSV23
  • Meningococcal vaccination
  • Hepatitis A vaccination
  • Hepatitis B vaccination
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccination

Reasons to get vaccinated

You may still feel uncertain about the necessity of immunizations. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases offers ten very good reasons why you should be vaccinated:

  1. Vaccine-preventable diseases haven’t gone away.
  2. Vaccines will help keep you healthy.
  3. Vaccines are as important to your overall health as diet and exercise.
  4. Vaccination can mean the difference between life and death.
  5. Vaccines are safe.
  6. Vaccines won’t give you the disease they are designed to prevent.
  7. Young and healthy people can get very sick, too.
  8. Vaccine-preventable diseases are expensive.
  9. When you get sick, your children, grandchildren, and parents are at risk, too.
  10. Your family and coworkers need you.

For all of these reasons, Women’s Care Florida strongly encourages you to speak with your OB/GYN about recommended immunizations with regard to your health history. Also, you may even be able to receive needed vaccinations at your next annual exam or scheduled visit. Find a Women’s Care Florida OB/GYN near you.

To learn more about each of the vaccinations, visit our immunization page.

How Do Vaccines Work?

If you read our last post on adult immunization, you know the importance of keeping your vaccinations up-to-date. The key to staying healthy involves several factors. Furthermore, vaccinations have an important part of a smart wellness plan. However, how do vaccines work exactly? Many of us know that we should receive vaccinations, but don’t know the basics of vaccines. In addition, do you know if you’re up to date on all the recommended vaccinations? What about when should they be administered? We’ll take a closer look at these important questions. First, here’s a quick overview of how vaccines work.

How vaccines work

Antibodies

The Oxford dictionary defines immunity as “The ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells.” Where do antibodies come from? Your body produces antibodies when it detects a foreign germ. Once formed, these antibodies fight the disease germ. As a result, you get better. After your body wins the fight, you then develop immunity. Antibodies contribute to immunity because they also keep you from getting sick if the same germ is introduced again.

However, antibodies cannot prevent you from getting sick when the foreign germ is first introduced. Vaccines give you antibodies that recognize the germ before you develop the sickness.

Vaccines and antibodies together

We develop vaccines from dead germs of a disease or virus. Once introduced into the body, your immune system reacts as it would to the live germ and creates antibodies. However, your body doesn’t fight the germ because it’s already dead. This is why you don’t get sick. These antibodies then remain in your system for an extended period of time, fighting the live disease germ as soon as it’s introduced to your body. In other words, it gives your immune system a head start, or advantage, in immediately resisting the germ.

Why you still might get sick

You might still be wondering, “How do vaccines work if I received a vaccine and still got sick?”

Many avoid vaccines because they think they don’t work due to contracting a sickness anyway. Two possible reasons contribute to getting sick after receiving a vaccine. First, you might already have contracted the sickness but didn’t show symptoms. Second, many viruses such as the flu and the common cold rapidly mutate. We have yearly vaccinations for the flu because it mutates into different strains. Sometimes you receive the wrong strain for the flu and get it anyway. With the common cold, it mutates so rapidly that developing a vaccination would be useless.

Staying up-to-date on vaccinations

Certain vaccines last for varying periods of time. Therefore, you should stay up-to-date on your vaccinations to help your immune system. However, how do you know how long a vaccination lasts and which ones you need? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a thorough and easy-to-read chart of the recommended adult immunizations.

Grouped by age, this chart identifies what vaccinations “are recommended” and which ones “may be recommended.” It also notes when, and if, a booster is needed. Additionally, the chart provides recommendations by health condition, making clear which groups should not receive particular vaccines. It is updated annually by the CDC to ensure the most current information is reflected.

chart that describes how vaccines work with when you should get certain vaccinations

For example, unless your healthcare provider says otherwise, all adults ages 19 – 65+ should receive annual influenza (flu) vaccinations. However, the shingles vaccine is only recommended for adults 60 and over, but that includes anyone who may have already had shingles. And the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is recommended for adults ages 19 – 59, only if they did not get it as a child. Recommendations are laid out clearly in the chart for these and a number of other diseases, too.

You can also find additional information, like immunization recommendations for travelers, as well as some useful tools on the CDC’s website. The Adult Vaccination Quiz asks a series of simple age, health, and lifestyle questions to provide you with a list of vaccinations that you may possibly need; you can then print this list and bring it with you to your next physician’s appointment.

Remember, you never outgrow the need for vaccines, so it is important that you keep track of your vaccination records. Be sure to share your immunity history with your Women’s Care Florida OB/GYN to ensure you stay on schedule and stay healthy!

For more detailed information on each of the adult vaccinations, we encourage you to visit the immunization page on our website. To find a Women’s Care Florida OB/GYN near you.

Recommended Vaccinations for Pregnancy

Before you make plans to become pregnant, speak to your OB-GYN about the recommended vaccinations for pregnancy that can help protect you and your baby from certain infections. Make sure the below list of shots are up to date before you become pregnant. In addition, consult with your doctor before getting vaccinated to get a safety confirmation for you and your baby.

Here’s a list of recommended vaccinations for pregnancy according to the CDC.

Flu vaccine

You should get the flu vaccine once per year between October and May before the season begins. Two types of flu vaccines exist: the flu shot and the flu nasal spray. Researchers deem both vaccines as safe to receive before you become pregnant. However, wait at least one month before conceiving if you choose the nasal spray. Women’s risks of major complications increase if they obtain the flu during pregnancy. These can include pneumonia and bronchitis among others. Therefore, getting the flu vaccine can lower your risk of birth complications and prolonged illnesses.

HPV vaccine

This vaccine helps protect you from getting HPV. This can cause genital warts which can eventually lead to cervical cancer and cancers of the vulva and vagina. Doctors recommend women (and men) ages 26 and under to receive the vaccine.

MMR vaccine

The MMR vaccine protects you against measles, mumps, and rubella. It also lowers your risk for miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth should you develop any of these diseases while you’re pregnant. Rubella can also cause congenital rubella syndrome in your baby, which can lead to birth defects such as vision problems, hearing problems, and heart defects.

Varicella vaccine

This vaccine protects you from chickenpox, which can be dangerous for your unborn baby. In addition, it can increase the risk of birth defects. If you’ve never had chickenpox, or haven’t been vaccinated for the disease, inform your OB-GYN immediately so you can receive the varicella vaccine.

Recommended vaccines to avoid during pregnancy

If you find out you’re already pregnant before you get the recommended vaccines, inform your OB-GYN since some vaccines are not safe to receive during pregnancy. If you’ve received any of the below vaccines, wait at least one month before trying to conceive.

Vaccines that are not safe during pregnancy are:

  • MMR
  • Varicella
  • Flu mist/flu nasal spray
  • BCG
  • Meningococcal
  • Typhoid

Getting caught up on proper vaccination before pregnancy can help protect you and your baby throughout pregnancy and beyond. Don’t put off getting vaccinated; see your OB-GYN find out which vaccines you need.

Women’s Care Florida can provide immunizations at the time of your scheduled appointment or annual exam. Schedule an appointment with WCF today to receive the latest recommended vaccines, and to get your questions about immunizations answered by an experienced, board-certified OB-GYN.

Vaccines for Pregnant Women | Immunizations Before Pregnancy

Immunization, also known as vaccination, prevents many from contracting dangerous and deadly diseases. Vaccines protect your children by killing off illnesses that become rarer over time. Therefore, our future grandchildren won’t have to worry about these deadly illnesses. Additionally, they include measles, polio, diphtheria, and whooping cough. At Women’s Care Florida, we always work to raise awareness about healthcare. We also provide patients with information about immunizations. You can schedule an appointment with your Women’s Care Florida OB-GYN to receive vaccines for pregnant women or prior to becoming pregnant.

7 reasons to consider vaccines for pregnant women

  1. Vaccines can keep your baby as healthy as possible throughout childhood and adulthood by preventing certain illnesses and diseases.
  2. Plus, vaccinations prevent side effects from major illnesses that could otherwise be prevented through immunization. These can include:
    • Hearing loss
    • Brain damage
    • Amputation
    • Paralysis
    • Death.
  3. Immunizations help prevent rare diseases that still affect some children in the United States. Some rare diseases increasing in recent years:
    • Measles
    • Pertussis
    • Mumps.
  4. Vaccines for pregnant women help keep you and your children safe. When you travel abroad and to international countries that don’t have as much risk.
  5. Vaccinations help protect you and your children from other children whose parents have decided not to choose vaccination.
  6. All U.S. vaccinations have been proven safe and effective by doctors, scientists, and the federal government.
  7. Vaccinations can prevent you and your kids from spreading diseases. Furthermore, some people have weak immune systems. In addition, they prevent spreading diseases to children too young to receive certain vaccinations.

Vaccinations are an important part of preventative healthcare. They offer protection against the serious effects of certain diseases. The board-certified physicians at Women’s Care Florida can provide immunizations at the time of your scheduled appointment or annual exam. Contact us to schedule an appointment today. Learn more about how Women’s Care Florida can help you take care of you.

The Facts About Vaccine Safety – Debunking Vaccine Myths

Vaccines and immunizations can help save lives. They prevent the spreading of certain deadly diseases between adults and children. If you feel apprehensive about vaccinations due to stories you’ve heard, know you’re putting many at risk. Putting off vaccinations increases the chance of others catching dangerous, fatal diseases. Here are the facts about vaccine safety and what you need to know about debunking vaccine myths.

Vaccines prove to be effective at saving lives

For over 50 years, immunizations save millions of lives. Childhood vaccines prove to be between 90 and 99 percent effective at preventing diseases. If vaccinated children contract the disease anyway, they experience much less severe symptoms than unvaccinated kids. Mild side effects from vaccinations include swelling at the injection site. Furthermore, they rarely trigger dangerous side effects.

Several health organizations review vaccines

The FDA reviews each vaccine for safety and efficacy. They also license it before making it available to the public. Moreover, vaccines that do not meet safety standards do not become licensed. They, thus, do not reach the public. Additionally, after the FDA approves and licenses a vaccine, other health organizations review them. These include the CDC, AAP, and AAFP before being recommended for children. When you visit your doctor, understand the vaccines you and your children receive underwent a lengthy process of safety approval.

Booster shots can help strengthen previous vaccines

Booster shots enhance immunity by building on the efficacy of the previous vaccine. They also help strengthen the concept of herd immunity. Furthermore, herd immunity consists of a community developing general resistance to a particular disease due to nearly everyone having immunity through vaccination. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine how often you need booster shots based on your immunization record.

Vaccinations are an essential part of preventative healthcare and offer protection against the severe effects of certain diseases. The board-certified physicians at Women’s Care Florida can provide immunizations at the time of your scheduled appointment or annual exam. Contact WCF to schedule an appointment today and learn more about how we can help you take care of you.

To find a physician or for more information about your health, contact us to schedule an appointment.