The V.I. governor, local senators and Department of Health officials are urging residents to make sure they are caught up on their vaccinations amid the largest measles outbreak since measles was first eliminated in the U.S.in 2000. She advises anyone who comes down with a fever, followed by a rash, to report to the nearest health clinic so that the case can be investigated and proper measures taken.
Measles, along with mumps and rubella are the three serious and highly infectious diseases addressed in the vaccine commonly called MMR.
Once a person has received two doses of the vaccine, they are fully immunized against measles.
People are contagious from four days before the rash develops until four days after.
Merck said on Tuesday that USA sales of MMR and chickenpox vaccines rose around 10 percent to $343 million in the first quarter. "They could potentially expose patients".
All five categories examined in the report are below the recommended 96 percent mark set by the National National Institutes of Health to develop herd immunity - the point at which it becomes hard for an infectious disease to easily spread from person to person.
Excepting people who work in health care, most people born before 1957 don't need the vaccine because "before vaccines were available, almost everyone was infected with measles, mumps, and rubella viruses during childhood", the agency says, resulting in lifelong immunity.
If your child is older than 6 months and you'll be traveling overseas, or if your baby has had a known exposure within 72 hours, your pediatrician may go ahead and vaccinate.
But there's a snag: From 1963 to 1967, doctors used different types of measles vaccines before discovering that one - the "killed" version - was ineffective.
Take charge of your travel health: Protect yourself against measles
This is the greatest number of cases reported in the USA since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000. The legislature is considering a bill that would eliminate all non-medical exemptions from vaccinations.
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Based on this recommendation, adults who live near or work for UCLA or Cal State Los Angeles, which last week initiated quarantines after contagious people were on campus, may need another dose of the vaccine. Mother of a seven-year-old girl, Sanju Kumari is also in support of such drives, she says, "The Government of India advertises about these vaccines and it is for our benefit itself".
But what if you don't have written documentation of the right vaccine?
For people in the midst of an outbreak who can't get vaccinated, are unsure about their status or think they might be infected, public health experts recommend limiting contact that could spread the virus - including keeping unvaccinated kids home from school.
"Vaccines are largely a victim of their success", said author and infectious disease physician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Paul Offit.
Karen Hacker says with a total of five measles cases in the area, this is now considered an outbreak.
ME has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with 5 percent of kindergartners holding a non-medical exemption from vaccination, compared to a national average of 2 percent, according to CDC data.
First item on doctors' lists: Make sure you're vaccinated. "You will not be getting measles if you are vaccinated".
In 2011, Utah experienced an outbreak of 15 cases of measles that cost the state $130,000 to contain the disease.