Keep measles out of Georgia: Get vaccinated.

By Julie Jordan
Published February 12, 2019

Since a measles outbreak began in Washington state this year with 54 confirmed cases since Jan. 1, fear of the virus has been spreading throughout the U.S. In Georgia, there were three reported cases of measles in January 2019. No new cases have been reported since then, and the infected individuals are family members who were all unvaccinated. In Washington, the outbreak occurred where many people choose not to get vaccinated, and vaccination rates are much lower than the rate needed to prevent an outbreak.

What lessons can Georgia learn from Washington’s measles outbreak?

Measles spreads quickly from person to person through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms start with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat. Then a rash spreads over the body. Complications are more common in children under 5 and adults over 20, and they include ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, encephalitis (brain swelling) and death.

Vaccination is paramount to good health, especially when it comes to highly contagious viral infections, like measles. Measles was considered eliminated from the U.S. in 2000 because an effective vaccination program was developed.

Children should receive two doses of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine at one year of age and four to six years of age. Adults who have not received the vaccine should become immunized. Vaccination prevents illness, complications and sometimes even death.  

If you or a loved one become infected with measles, avoid to public places until about four days after the onset of the rash. Call your doctor before visiting their clinic, so they may take precautions for others who may be susceptible to measles. Measles will last about a week if there are no complications.  

To prevent measles and other viruses:

  • Vaccinate your children. Georgia requires immunization [pdf] from measles and other viruses for child care and school attendance.
  • Contact the Georgia Registry of Immunization Transactions and Services, or GRITS, at 1-888-523-8076 to obtain vaccination records if you are uncertain if you have been vaccinated. Anyone who has never received the measles vaccination should become immunized.    
  • Be aware of immunization schedules. Certain vaccinations are only needed once or twice, like the measles vaccination. Others may be needed more often, like an annual flu shot. Know when and how often you and your family should be vaccinated.   
  • Make sure you are protected when you travel. Different places handle viruses and immunizations differently.
  • Get vaccinated during pregnancy. Vaccines during pregnancy for whooping cough, flu and others are beneficial.   
  • Keep unvaccinated children at home during viral outbreaks. If a viral outbreak occurs, and your child is not vaccinated, do not take them to school, or they will become infected.   
  • Talk with your child’s health care provider about your immunization concerns. A lot has been said about immunizations. If you have questions, talk with your health care provider.