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More Than Half of Eligible Americans Not Receiving Measles Vaccine Prior to Overseas Travel

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Many simply do not believe themselves to be at risk from this highly contagious disease and so decline the MMR vaccine, an academic study has found.

A recent medical study has found that more than half of American adults who require vaccination against measles prior to traveling overseas aren’t receiving the proper prophylaxis against this highly contagious disease.

The findings of the study, reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, analyzed data on adults who visited travel clinics between 2009 and 2014. Looking at a population group of 40,810 adult travelers, researchers noted that 6,612 should have been eligible candidates for the measles vaccine. This is because they explicitly lacked a known measles vaccination, a known measles infection or a positive immunity test for the disease.

It appears that almost 53 percent of those 6,612 eligible travelers did not receive vaccination.

The study found that nearly half of this population refused the vaccine because they were not overly concerned about contracting the disease. Of the remainder, 28 percent of those not vaccinated did not receive the prophylaxis because medical staff themselves decided against issuing it while a final 24 percent didn’t receive their shots due to lack of access to proper care, Reuters reports.

The news agency also reports that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advocates two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) for those traveling overseas born before 1957 without a known immunity against the disease.

Speaking of the study’s results, lead author Dr. Emily Hyle of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston commented via e-mail that, “Many consider measles to be a mild illness characterized by fever, rash and cough, but measles can also result in severe illness that requires hospitalization.”

Commenting on the effort to educate travelers about the risks of measles, Dr. Lori Handy of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia added, “Most individuals in the United States have never known an individual who has measles and do not realize that prior to the introduction of a vaccine, 500,000 cases occurred each year in the United States […] As there are many people who cannot be vaccinated […] everyone else who can safely receive the vaccine should receive it.”

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