Measles Outbreak – Considerations for Adults

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We all have, by now, heard of the multiple cases of measles in both Washington State and Vancouver.  Given we are only a ferry ride away, it is entirely possible that we begin to see measles in Victoria.  Making sure your kids are up to date with their MMR vaccine is wise.  Although it can be a mild illness, measles can cause serious illness, and it weakens the immune system for months to years after infection, making that person more vulnerable to other illnesses (3).

Even though this is considered a childhood illness, adults can contract measles, and so it is wise for adults to know if they need to get the vaccine themselves.

Adults born on or after January 1, 1970 (1957 for health care workers) who do not have two documented doses of measles-containing vaccine or proof of immunity are recommended to have two doses of MMR vaccine (1).

For many of us, we may not know if we were vaccinated, or if we are currently immune to measles.  You have some options (2).

  • Check your home for your paper record of immunization. Try looking through baby books or other saved documents from your childhood.
  • Check with your parents or other caregivers to see if they have a record of your immunizations.
  • Check with your current and previous family doctors. Keep in mind that immunization records are kept at doctors’ offices for a limited time.
  • Check with your local health unit if you were immunized at your local health unit or in school.
  • A summary of measles-containing vaccine programs in BC is here.
  • A blood test, the anti-measles IgG antibody titer can be done to determine if you are immune.  At time of writing, it is our understanding that this must be ordered by an MD, and our NDs are unable to order.  We will update this posting if this changes.

This BC Healthlink page is full of helpful information for those of you unsure of your status and concerned that you may need to be vaccinated.  As there are some patient populations that should not get the vaccine, it is wise to consult a health care provider if you are: immunocompromised, pregnant or planning to become pregnant, a recent recipient of a blood product or blood transfusion, or are allergic to the vaccine or any of its contents.

We do not currently have an ND on staff who is certified to provide vaccinations.  Family Doctors, Pharmacists (for people over 5 years old), and your local health unit are able to provide you with vaccinations at this time.