Avera Medical Minute: Protecting yourself from measles

BROOKINGS, SD (KSFY)- In addition to the fun of a family trip, it's important to make sure your family is safe, especially when traveling to an area with a measles outbreak.

Child with measles

Meet thirteen-month-old Adler. His parents are taking him on a road trip and they wanted to make sure he'd be safe when it came to vaccines and the measles outbreak.

"We want to be able to protect our families and be around for our child as well so it's really important to do everything we can, including the vaccinations," said Asha Hertler.

Parents Gabriel and Asha Hertler talked to their doctor at Avera Medical Group Brookings about their son and vaccinations.

Dad Gabriel Hertler wants the best for his son. "Both Asha and my generation don't have the experience of a measles or mumps outbreak."

Dr. Rebecca Vande Kop, Avera Family Medicine Physician recommends the MMR vaccine to prevent measles. "There is no treatment for measles, so if a child does get it, all we can do is provide supportive care," she said.

Doctor Vande Kop says she, and many of her colleagues in the region, have not seen a case of measles, however, a lowering vaccination rate could change that. "If the majority of the people in the population are vaccinated for a disease, then that protects people who can't be vaccinated, such as infants under a year, people with immune suppressive diseases, or if they're allergic to the vaccine," said Vande Kop.

The Hertler's did their own research and made their decision. "We trust our doctor's recommendations, but I did end up checking vaccine schedules and see when he could have them and it lined up well with what we were intending on having him do," said Gabriel.

As an adult, are you protected from the measles? If you were born before 1957, it is assumed you have immunity from exposure. "The vaccine came out in 1957," explained Vande Kop. The people born between 1957 and 1967, if they got an older version of the vaccine it was not as effective and so those people would need to get a booster."

Vande Kop responds to the rumors about the MMR vaccine. "There's a lot of conspiracy theories that there are harmful ingredients in the vaccine and that the vaccine causes more harm than good, and those rumors have been dispelled. The study that showed that there might be a link to autism has been refuted and so that is not even an issue."

Experts say measles can spread from traveling to an infected area, and being in close quarters with others, such as a campus setting. If you're unsure if you're up to date, it's best to get vaccinated again.