By ROBERT S. MERRILL
Even though there haven’t been any reported cases of measles across southeast Idaho yet, public health officials are advising residents to check immunization records.
“This is especially important if a person plans to travel outside of the United States in the near future,” said Jeff Doerr, Region 6 epidemiologist with Southeastern Idaho Public Health, who is based in Pocatello.
“It would also be advisable for everyone to check their records to make sure they have been immunized against measles,” he said.
Although measles was officially eradicated from the United States in 2000, it is still present in other regions of the world including Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week the United States is currently experiencing its worst surge of measles cases since 1994 from infections brought in by overseas travelers.
Doerr said vaccination against measles is extremely safe and effective. He said the measles vaccine, as part of the measles-mumps-rubella or “MMR” vaccine, is routinely given to all children after their first birthday and again before kindergarten.
Because the risk of complications or death from measles is highest among very young children, Doerr recommends infants aged six-to-11 months receive one dose of MMR vaccine before traveling internationally; children aged 12 months and older should receive two doses separated by at least a month. Two doses of MMR vaccine will protect almost all people against measles for a lifetime.
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