Can I get the measles if I've already been vaccinated?
Answers from Priya Sampathkumar, M.D.
It's possible, but unlikely. The combination measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is a two-dose vaccine series that protects against the measles, mumps and rubella viruses. More than 93 percent of people who receive the first dose of MMR develop immunity to measles. After the second dose, 97 percent of people are protected.
The first dose of the MMR vaccine is recommended for children age 12 months to 15 months. The second dose, which can be given as soon as four weeks after receiving the first dose, is recommended before your child begins kindergarten or first grade, around age 4 or 5, or before beginning middle school, around age 11 or 12.
Your child may need the second dose at a younger age if you plan to travel abroad. Infants age 6 months to 11 months should receive one dose of measles vaccine before traveling.
If you're an adult, talk to your doctor about whether or not you need the MMR vaccine. A blood test can confirm if you're immune.
The combined measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine is another option that also protects against chickenpox (varicella). It is a single shot that may be used in place of the MMR and chickenpox vaccines. Talk to your doctor about both options.
Feb. 20, 2015
Priya Sampathkumar, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Measles: Make sure your child is fully immunized. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Measles. Accessed Jan. 30, 2015.
- Understanding MMR vaccine safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/patient-ed/conversations/provider-resources-safetysheets.html. Accessed Jan. 30, 2015.
- Measles — Q&A about disease and vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/measles/faqs-dis-vac-risks.htm. Accessed Jan. 30, 2015.
- Drutz JE. Standard immunizations for children and adolescents. http://uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 30, 2015.
- Barinaga JL, et al. Prevention and treatment of measles. http://uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 30, 2015.
- Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV) vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccines/MMRV/Index.html. Accessed Jan. 30, 2015.
- Sampathkumar P (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 30, 2015.