Do Adults Need a Measles Booster Shot?

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WEDNESDAY, May 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) — New York’s ongoing measles epidemic alarmed midtown Manhattan resident Deb Ivanhoe, who couldn’t remember whether she’d ever been vaccinated as a child.

So Ivanhoe, 60, sought out her long-time primary care doctor, who performed an antibody test to see whether she had any protection against measles.

To her surprise, the test revealed that Ivanhoe had no immunity to measles. Her doctor quickly gave her a measles booster shot.

“I’m a New Yorker. I’m out and about. I take the subway every day,” Ivanhoe said of her concerns. “One of the outbreak areas is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I have friends in Williamsburg. I go to there to visit, for dinner. It all becomes local.”

Ivanhoe is one of a growing number of adults who are worried that their immunity against measles might have lapsed, if they even received a vaccination.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has downplayed these concerns, saying that only adults in high-risk groups should talk with their doctor about a measles vaccination.

But experts are divided on whether the CDC is underestimating the threat posed by possibly waning immunity in adults.


New outbreaks, new dangers

There’s good reason adults are worried. At least 764 cases of measles across 23 states have been reported so far this year, the CDC says. Most cases have occurred in unvaccinated groups living in communities located on either side of the nation, in the areas surrounding New York City and Portland, Ore.

The high-risk groups of adults who should discuss measles vaccination with their doctor include international travelers, health care workers, and folks living in communities that are in the throes of an outbreak, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a media briefing last week.

“Most adults are protected against measles. That’s what the science says,” Messonnier said. “That includes people who were born before measles vaccine was recommended, and even folks who only got a single dose.”

Ivanhoe’s physician, Dr. Len Horovitz, said her antibody test “clearly proves that is not the case.”



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