February 19, 2019

How to protect your child from a measles outbreak

Information for parents to help them keep their children safe from Mark Salzman, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center.

PASADENA — With measles outbreaks happening in certain regions of the country, many parents are rightfully concerned, wondering what they can do to better protect their kids from contracting this infectious disease.

Mark Salzman, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, provides the following information for parents to help them keep their children safe.  

Should I vaccinate my child?

Although some people are hesitant to vaccinate their children, studies have repeatedly shown:

  • Vaccines do save children’s lives and protect our society against the spread of disease.
  • Not vaccinating your children puts them at risk of contracting measles. Furthermore, if your child develops measles, it is very contagious and puts other children at risk.
  • Immunization helps protect your child from contracting measles. The vaccine is 93 percent effective after one dose, and 97 percent effective after the second dose.
  • It is much safer for a child to get the measles vaccine than to contract the disease.

At what age should I vaccinate my child?

It is recommended that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine be given to children at age 12-15 months, and again at age 4-6 years.

How long will my child’s measles vaccine last?

Children who are vaccinated rarely develop measles. However, to increase the effectiveness of the measles vaccine, two doses should be given, which is estimated to give life-long protection.

Why should I be concerned about my child contracting measles?

Measles is a disease with serious complications. Many children who are infected suffer from pneumonia, and one in 1,000 children develops encephalitis — an inflammation of the brain — which often results in permanent brain damage. One to 2 per 1,000 children with measles will die from the infection. An additional 4 to 11 per 100,000 will die 7 to 10 years later from a degenerative brain disease after having a complete recovery from measles. Thanks to the success of the measles vaccine, this childhood disease is not as common as it once was. However, in recent years, some parents due to misinformation or scientifically unproven concerns have chosen to not immunize their children. Unvaccinated children in our communities have led to measles outbreaks taking place.

The evidence is clear. Measles vaccinations do work and help protect children against unnecessary pain and suffering. If you haven’t immunized your child yet, contact your pediatrician and make an appointment.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.2 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.


Debbie Karman