Measles (Rubeola)

  • Medical Author:

    Dr. Eddie Hooker is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Louisville and at Wright State University. His areas of expertise include emergency medicine, epidemiology, health-services management, and public health.

  • Medical Author: Mary K. Bister, MD
  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Childhood Illnesses Every Parent Should Know

Is there any truth to the fear of getting autism from the MMR or MMRV?

There is no valid scientific evidence that the measles vaccine, or any other vaccine, is the cause of autism. The possibility of an association between the measles vaccine and autism was proposed by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues in 1998. The research published by Wakefield was found to be flawed and actually forged, and the results have not been able to be repeated by other researchers. The Lancet, which published the original research in 1998, retracted the research publication in 2010. Since 1998, there have been numerous studies that have examined such an association. None of these studies have shown any risk of autism associated with the use of the vaccine. A recent study performed in Japan after the MMR vaccine was removed from the market showed that autism continued to increase after the vaccine was no longer being utilized. Although autism is a very serious disease that warrants good research to find out its many causes, not obtaining vaccinations is potentially dangerous and not supported by the best scientific data available today.

Who should not receive measles vaccinations?

The following groups of people should not receive measles vaccinations:

  • People who have suffered a severe allergic reaction to either the measles vaccine or its components (gelatin or neomycin) should not receive the vaccine.
  • Women known to be pregnant should not receive the vaccine. Pregnancy should be avoided for four weeks after vaccination.
  • Severely immunocompromised patients (cancer patients or patients who are receiving large doses of corticosteroids) should not receive the vaccine. However, those leukemia patients who have been in remission for three months may receive the MMR.
  • Patients with severe human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections should not receive the vaccine. However, asymptomatic patients with HIV are considered to be safe for vaccination. The CDC has issued guidelines for vaccination based on the CD4+ T-lymphocyte counts.
  • People with a moderate to severe acute illness should wait until their illness resolves before receiving the vaccine.

Patients with history of thrombocytopenic purpura or thrombocytopenia (low platelets) may be at increased risk, and immunization should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Do people need to be revaccinated against measles if they are traveling to Europe?

Europe has been experiencing recent epidemics of measles. This is likely due to poor rates of vaccinations in many European countries. U.S. travelers should make sure that they have received at least two vaccinations against measles (MMR) when visiting Europe.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/6/2015

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