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Measles and Children

Measles is not just a little rash and fever. Measles can cause serious health problems, especially in children younger than 5 years of age.

  • About 1 in 5 people in the US who get measles will be hospitalized
  • 1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling, which could lead to brain damage
  • As many as 1 in 20 children with measles gets pneumonia
  • 1 to 3 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care

Measles spreads easily when an infected person breathes or coughs. In fact, it is so contagious that if an individual has measles, up to 9 in 10 of their close contacts who are not immune will also become infected. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears. A child can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left.

Measles Prevention

The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect you and your family from measles.

In the US, two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended for children. Infants normally get their first measles vaccine between 12 and 15 months followed by another shot between 4 and 6 years. However, CDC recommends that any baby as young as 6 months old who will be travelling internationally should get a vaccine before leaving the US, followed by two additional doses later.

Adolescents who were not previously vaccinated should get two doses (with at least 28 days between doses); those who only received one dose previously should get the second dose.


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