Health & Science

It’s A Record Year For Measles. Do Adults Need The Vaccine?

Houston medical professionals are recommending a booster in some cases.

A vaccine vial.

With measles cases on the rise nationwide, doctors are asking some adults who aren't sure about their immunization status to get the vaccine.

Dr. Melanie Mouzoon, who oversees immunization practices at Kelsey-Seybold's locations across the Houston area, said one major variable is age.

For adults who were born before 1957, she said there's no need to get a vaccine.

"Virtually everybody got measles. It's so contagious. If you were born before the modern vaccine era, then you had measles as a child and you lived through it," she said. "You have lifelong immunity."

The vaccine became available around 1963, but early on doctors were only giving one dose. Today the vaccine is given in two doses. The first dose is 90% protective, and a second dose can boost that to 99%.

Still, she said that one dose is adequate for most adults who have concerns, depending on their occupations.

"If they know they got one dose of vaccine and they're not health care workers and they're not international travelers, they're probably okay," she said. "But it would also be okay to get another dose just to be sure if they were really worried."

For adults born after 1957 who don't know if they've been immunized, she recommends getting the vaccine.

"It's perfectly safe to get it if you're not sure," she said. "So if you can't find any records and you really don't know, you should probably get one dose."

Harris County has reported four cases of measles in 2019. And in Texas, there have been 15 confirmed cases — more than all of last year.

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Jen Rice

Jen Rice


Jen Rice is the City Hall reporter at Houston Public Media, where she covers topics like Houston City Council and housing. Jen was born and raised in Houston's 100-year floodplain. She graduated from Barnard College at Columbia University and has a master's degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs...

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