Measles vaccination: how to prevent it?

The Measles is a contagious viral in nature and can be contracted by people of all ages.

Transmission happens directly, from the sick person to a healthy person, through the secretions expelled when coughing, sneezing, breathing and even talking.

There is no specific treatment for measles. Therefore, according to the Ministry of Health, the best way to prevent it is with vaccination . It is the most effective way to prevent the disease, which can be serious and even fatal.

In cases where any symptom such as diarrhea , pneumonia and inflammation in the ears is identified , the person should seek medical help as soon as possible. Treatment, if the diagnosis is confirmed, consists of the use of antibiotic drugs  , which only treat the symptoms.

In this article, we will talk a little more about the measles cases registered in 2019, as well as, frequently asked questions about the subject.


Measles cases in 2019

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the current measles outbreak is a global problem and the number of cases worldwide has tripled in the first 7 months of 2019, compared to the same period of the year in 2018.

In Brazil, according to the Ministry of Health, the number of measles cases grew 18% in 2019.

There were 3 deaths (2 children and 1 adult) in São Paulo and 1 (child) in Pernambuco, until August 2019. In none of the 4 cases, measles immunization was identified.

The new measles epidemiological bulletin reported that, from June 9 to August 31, 2019, Brazil reported 20,292 cases of the disease. Of these cases, 15,430 are under investigation and 2,109 have already been discarded.

Up to the month of October, 6,640 cases in the country were confirmed, most of them affecting people between 20 and 29 years old. Despite this, the age group most susceptible to the disease (12 times more than the general population) are children between 1 and 4 years old.

Most cases (suspected and confirmed) are in the state of São Paulo, representing 90.9% of the total, according to the State Department of Health.

The Ministry of Health confirmed, in the August bulletin, the incidence of 1,388 measles cases in the states of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Bahia and Paraná, in addition to another 66 in other states.

How to prevent measles?

According to the Ministry of Health, vaccination is the best way to prevent measles.

It is important to note that people with a history of severe allergic reactions to previous doses of the vaccine should be vaccinated in urgent and emergency care, in case they need to treat possible side effects.

What are the vaccines that protect against measles?

There is more than one vaccine that protects from measles and they all prevent the disease in the same way. The type of vaccine to be applied is defined according to the patient’s age group.

The vaccine types are:

  • Viral duo: protects against measles and rubella. It can also be used in cases of an outbreak of the disease;
  • Triple viral : protects against measles, mumps and rubella;
  • Viral tetra: protects against measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox (chicken pox) virus.

Measles vaccination: who needs to take it?

The Ministry of Health has stipulated some criteria to determine who needs to get the vaccine. Check out what these criteria are:

  • Children aged 6 to 11 months and 29 days : should take an extra dose of the vaccine. It does not replace the 1st and 2nd doses, as it is only a reinforcement due to the increase in the number of cases in children;
  • Children aged 12 months (1 year) : 1st dose of the triple viral vaccine;
  • Children aged 15 months : 2nd dose of viral tetra. Last dose for life;
  • People between 1 and 29 years of age : for those who took only the 1st dose of the vaccine, it will be necessary to take the 2nd dose;
  • People between 1 and 29 years of age : for those who have not taken any dose of the vaccine or lost the vaccination card and do not remember having taken it, they should take the 1st and 2nd doses;
  • Persons 30 to 49 years of age : For those who have not taken any dose of the vaccine or lost their vaccination card and do not remember having taken it

In addition to vaccinating children at the stipulated ages as a priority, the Ministry of Health advises that, in cases of measles outbreaks, it is recommended to vaccinate all close people within 72 hours.

People of all ages must have 2 doses of the vaccine. In general, anyone in the 29-year-old age group was born at a time when the 2nd dose was not part of the National Vaccination Calendar. So, probably a lot of people didn’t take it.

It is important to check the vaccination card and check if the 2 doses have been taken. If not, the recommendation is to look for a health clinic and update the vaccination to be protected against measles.

Can pregnant women get the measles vaccine?

The vaccine is contraindicated during pregnancy, as it is produced with live measles virus (although attenuated).

With pregnancy, the woman’s immunity decreases, leaving the immune system more vulnerable, which means that there is a greater chance of developing the disease or some other health complication.

The recommendation of the Ministry of Health is that the woman who intends to get pregnant try to take the 2 doses of the vaccine before. That way, it is possible to protect yourself and the baby.

How many doses of measles vaccine do you have to take?

It depends. As we saw earlier, vaccination cases vary according to age. Check below how many doses of the vaccine are needed:

  • Children from 6 to 11 months: from 2 to 3 doses (extra dose in cases of outbreaks + 1st and 2nd doses);
  • Children from 12 months to less than 5 years of age: 2 doses (triple viral);
  • From 5 to 29 years : 2 doses;
  • Adults from 30 to 49 : 1 dose.

Does the vaccine have side effects?

Vaccines that protect against measles (triple viral and tetraviral) usually have few or no side effects. In some cases, fever , pain and redness may occur at the injection site.

It is important to remember that the vaccine does not cause disease or other problems. Side effects are only temporary manifestations that can happen sporadically.

Cases of hypersensitivity to the vaccine are generally rare, but they can happen. The vaccine contains human albumin, neomycin sulfate (antibiotic), gelatin and traces of chicken egg protein.

In addition, in Brazil, one of the vaccines used in the public network may contain traces of lactoalbumin (protein from cow’s milk).

In cases of adverse reactions, it is recommended to seek medical advice immediately.

Who is vaccinated against measles can get?

Hardly . Those who are already vaccinated against measles with doses according to their age group, have little chance of getting the disease.

With the great mobilization to vaccinate the population, the circulation of the virus decreased. This made people less exposed to the virus and, thus, did not acquire a natural reinforcement from it.

Those who have been infected with the virus previously need not worry, as they have probably developed antibodies against measles and will not be at risk of getting the disease again.

The vaccine is the most effective method to prevent the disease. However, it is important to remember that it may eventually fail.

Measles vaccination campaign

Due to the measles outbreak, the Federal Government, the Ministry of Health and the Health Departments organized the National Measles Vaccination Campaign , with the aim of ending the circulation of the virus in the country.

The campaign will take place as follows:

  • 1st stage: from 7 to 25 October 2019, for children from 6 months to under 5 years of age;
  •  2nd stage: from 18 to 30 November 2019, for the public aged 20 to 29 years old;
  • D-Day : October 19 and November 30, 2019, for the entire population.