How Healthcare Providers Can Help Stop Measles Outbreaks
From Jan. 1, 2019 through April 4, 2019, over 465 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 12 states, already surpassing the entire years’ totals for seven of the last nine years. Public health is asking for healthcare providers’ help to ensure all patients are up to date on their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations. Parents trust the expertise of their doctor more than anyone else. Explain to patients that MMR vaccine is the best protection against measles infection.
What Should Clinicians Do?
Discuss the importance of MMR vaccine with parents. Listen and respond to parents’ questions. When parents have questions, it does not necessarily mean they won’t accept vaccines. Sometimes, they simply want your answers to their questions.
Ensure all patients are up to date on MMR vaccine.
- Children need two doses of MMR: one dose at 12-15 months and another dose at 4-6 years.
- Before any international travel, infants 6-11 months need one dose of MMR vaccine, children 12 months and older need two doses separated by at least 28 days, and teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles need two doses separated by at least 28 days.
Consider measles in patients presenting with a febrile illness with clinically compatible symptoms (cough, coryza and conjunctivitis) and a rash. Ask parents about recent travel internationally or to domestic venues frequented by international travelers, as well as a history of measles exposure in their communities.
Promptly isolate patients with suspected measles to avoid disease transmission and immediately report the suspect measles case to SRHD at 509-869-3133.
- For more information, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for patient evaluation, diagnosis, and management, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/hcp/index.html.
Strengthen your communication skills around vaccine hesitancy:
Consult CDC’s Provider Resources for Vaccine Conversations with Parents, which aim to strengthen communication between healthcare professionals and parents. Specific resources to highlight include:
- Infant Immunization FAQs
- Preparing for Questions Parents May Ask
- Talking with Parents about Vaccines for Infants
Share information about measles with parents and the public in your office:
- CDC has a recent article for parents about measles that you can link to from your consumer-friendly website: https://www.cdc.gov/features/measles/
- CDC has a full suite of resources to share with parents, including printable fact sheets, posters, and printable infographics: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/resources/parents-caregivers.html
Learn more about measles and encourage your members to do the same:
- View TEDMED at CDC: Measles – Making a Disease Disappear, conference talk from 2013
- View a CDC Expert Commentary video on Medscape about measles
- Visit DOH’s Measles Toolkits page
Content modified from Public Health Foundation Immunization Center News