Measles: How to protect your children
The Doc Smitty makes his case for vaccinations
There’s a measles outbreak at Disney and we’re seeing cases of it pop up all over the country.
What does that mean for us, in our community?
As of right now, we have not seen a related case in Texas. Although there was a case imported from a traveler from India earlier this month, we have not seen spread of the disease here.
I’m getting lots of questions about how parents can protect their children.
Of course, as in most medical topics, it’s complicated and yet it’s not.
Unfortunately, there is no immune boosting food, oil or any other product that can “boost your immune system” and protect you from measles. Eating healthier is always the right option, but not a great infectious disease prevention strategy.
So, what can you do?
Get the vaccine.
This is the simple part. After the first dose of the vaccine (given at 1 year), children are 95 percent protected from disease if exposed. After the second dose (given at 4 years), children are close to 100 percent protected. Contrast that with the 75-90 percent chance of getting the disease if your child is not vaccinated.
What else can you do? Avoid being exposed.
This is where things get more complicated. Because measles are contagious before symptoms are present, this is not always as simple as we would hope. I will base my recommendations on what is currently being recommended in California.
In California, the health department is not recommending a change in activity level for children who are vaccinated.
In Texas, it would make no sense to keep your vaccinated child home from school or other activities based on a fear of measles-especially if we aren’t recommending this for the children in California.
In California, the health department is recommending that unvaccinated children (by choice or because of age or other medical condition that prohibits vaccination) not go to Disneyland or other “areas where large people will be gathered.”
In Texas, we obviously don’t have to go this far yet, but we do need to be aware of the news and the spread of cases across the country to see if this recommendation becomes applicable to us.
No matter where you are, avoid exposing your children to others who are sick. Fever and rash are the most classic and most notable symptoms of measles and I would not recommend your kids be around children with these symptoms - measles outbreak or not.
If you have specific questions about measles vaccination or about how you can best protect your child, please reach out to your local Cook Children’s pediatrician.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . View more from The Doc Smitty at his Facebook page. He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.