SEATTLE — With six confirmed cases of measles in a new outbreak in Western Washington and seven more potential cases being tested, doctors say many patients are asking what to if they’re not sure about their measles vaccinations.
While records for children are likely electronically available right now, adults may be having a tougher time tracking down their vaccination history.
“I think it's a little worrisome, you know, it's spreading,” Jeff Mustonen said of the outbreak as he was out grocery shopping with his daughter, Ella.
“As a health care provider, we have to prove immune status,” pediatrician Danae Nakoneczny, who was finishing grocery shopping with her daughter Carina, said.
“For people who are born earlier, I think it can be harder to find those records. My mom called me and asked me about hers. And I said, really look into your vaccine records, try and ask your doctor, see if there's records.”
Nakoneczny said her mother knows she had a measles vaccine, but she’s not sure if it’s the proper one.
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“Before a certain time, the vaccine given was not as efficacious as the ones given today,” she said.
Dr. Scott Itano at Kaiser Permanente said the vaccines with less effectiveness were generally given from 1957 and through the 1960s.
He said those people may want to consult with their doctors. Measles symptoms, including the red rash, coughing, watery eyes, and a runny nose, can last up to a week and in rare cases, can become more severe.
The measles vaccine is usually administered in two doses, which gets a person to 97 percent protected.
But what if you're not sure you got that second dose?
“To be honest with you, I have no clue whether I got that [second dose] or not,” Jeff Mustonen said.
“You're looking at your records, you only see one MMR shot. Should you get another one?” reporter Linzi Sheldon asked.
“You should feel pretty confident,” Itano said. “You're 93 percent protected. So you should be safe during this measles outbreak.”
There's also a blood test, called a titer test. Dr. Itano said most people can skip that and go straight to the vaccine, which you can get at clinics or even your local drug store.
Of course, for people at higher risk of complications, like pregnant women or adults with immune issues, they'll want to talk to their doctors first.
Public health officials listed multiple measles exposure sites throughout our region in this latest outbreak, including a Fred Meyer and apartment building in Auburn, a transmission shop in Orting, North Creek High School in Bothell, Issaquah High School, and Sea-Tac Airport. All six cases, three in King County, two in Pierce County, and one in Snohomish County, traveled through the airport recently.
Danae Nakoneczny said getting vaccinated is essential when it comes to keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.
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