How Many Times Do You Need a Measles Shot?

Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018

Ask the experts

I've heard that one measles vaccination is enough? Is the second one needed?

Doctor's response

The second vaccination is very important to maintain immunity against measles. To illustrate the need, the city of Anchorage, Alaska had a sizeable outbreak of measles in 1988. Many of the cases involved students at a high school who had had just one measles vaccination. The outbreak began with a child visiting Anchorage from Japan who came down with the measles. The second case occurred in a high school student. In all, a total of 33 people became sick with the measles, 17 of them from this high school. The failure to have had a second measles immunization was a prime reason for this situation.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services issued an emergency order requiring all schoolchildren in Anchorage to have two doses of measles-containing vaccine and the requirement was later extended to all Alaskan schoolchildren.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that ALL students from kindergarten through 12th grade have TWO doses of measles-containing vaccine by the year 2001. To repeat, the second vaccination is very important to maintain immunity against measles.

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