Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What are the symptoms of measles?
Answer: Measles begins with a fever that lasts for a couple of days, followed by a cough, a runny nose, conjunctivitis (pink eye), and a rash. The rash typically appears first on the face, along the hairline, and behind the ears and then affects the rest of the body. After about 5 days, the rash fades in the same order in which it appeared.
Q: Given the community outbreak (currently in Baltimore, Maryland), how can I prevent getting measles?
A: The best way to prevent measles and its spread is to get vaccinated. The measles vaccine is very effective, resulting in lifelong immunity for 97% of people who receive 2 doses. One dose of MMR vaccine is about 93% effective against measles.* The measles vaccine is part of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, which helps prevent all 3 viral infections. In addition, practicing good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette (covering cough/using a tissue) is advised.
Q: How do I know if I should have the measles vaccination?
A: All persons less than 19 years of age should complete a primary measles immunization series with 2 doses of MMR vaccine. You do not need the MMR vaccine if you are:
- (Child who has) Already had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine
- (Adult who has) Already had 1 dose of the MMR vaccine and are not at high risk of measles exposure
- Someone born before 1957 and not in a group at higher risk for measles exposure
- Had blood tests that show you are immune to MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella.
Q: Is it the same as German measles?
A: No, the strain that’s in the community is measles, not German measles.
Q: How long after being vaccinated will it take for me to be immune?
A: The vaccine takes about 2 weeks to provide protection against measles.
Q: What should I do if I have symptoms or think I’ve been exposed?
A: If you or your child has a fever and a rash, or you think either of you has been in contact with the measles virus, call the appointment and advice line any time at 1-800-777-7904 (TTY 711) for further instructions.
Q: I have a child less than 6 months of age and am concerned about their being exposed to measles. Can I get them vaccinated early?
A: The MMR vaccine is not approved for children less than 6 months of age. Children in this age group typically have measles antibody, acquired from their mother before birth, which provides protection from the disease.
Q: Besides vaccination, what else can I do to avoid infection?
A: While hand hygiene will not prevent measles, it is the number one way to prevent the spread of infections. Practice proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette such as covering cough/using a tissue.
Q: I am pregnant — what should I do to protect myself and my baby from measles?
A: Measles infection during pregnancy can be associated with increased complications to both the mother and baby. Prior immunizations help protect both the mother and baby during pregnancy. Pregnant patients with symptoms of measles should call the appointment and advice line any time at 1-800-777-7904 (TTY 711) for further instructions.
Q: How do I know if I have been immunized?
A: Kaiser Permanente members can review their immunizations in their medical record, accessed via kp.org or the Kaiser Permanente app. Once signed in, choose “Medical Record” and then “Immunizations.” If you have questions, call the appointment and advice line any time at 1-800-777-7904 (TTY 711).
Q: Where do I send a copy of my past vaccination records to update my Kaiser Permanente medical record?
A: Kaiser Permanente members can send a photo or copy of their childhood or adult vaccination records as an attachment to a secure e-mail message to their doctor via kp.org or the Kaiser Permanente app. Once signed in, choose “Message Center” and then “Create a message to my doctor.” If you have questions, call the appointment and advice line any time at 1-800-777-7904 (TTY 711).
Q: Where can I find more information?
A: The District of Columbia Health Department, Maryland Department of Health, Virginia Department of Health has up-to-date information regarding measles. In addition, general information about exposures and immunizations for the general public is available from the State of Maryland, Commonwealth of Virginia and District of Columbia (dial 211).