(INDIANAPOLIS) – State Health Commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG, Tuesday issued a statewide standing order to make it easier for Indiana adults to get vaccinated against measles, a highly infectious disease that has sickened more than 700 people in 22 states this year, including one person in Indiana.
The standing order means that adults do not need to see their healthcare provider for a prescription and can obtain the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine from any pharmacy that carries it. Pharmacies and healthcare providers have been notified about the standing order. Hoosiers choosing to seek a vaccine using this order should contact the pharmacy to ensure the vaccine is available and inform the pharmacist that they will be using the state health commissioner’s standing order. Vaccine costs will be billed to insurance.
“Vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease, and we want to remove any barriers that may prevent Hoosiers from being protected during this nationwide outbreak,” Dr. Box said. “Even one case of a disease that had largely disappeared is too many, and our hope is that this proactive step will help prevent additional cases in Indiana.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the MMR vaccine is safe and 97 percent effective at preventing measles after the second dose. The CDC recommends two doses of MMR vaccine for children, the first at age 12 to 15 months and the second between 4 and 6 years. Many Indiana adults may not be aware of their vaccination status or may have received a single dose of inactive virus, which does not provide the full protection. These individuals are encouraged to ask their healthcare provider about receiving a dose of MMR.
Measles is caused by a virus and spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can remain in the air for two hours after an infected person leaves an area. The illness typically begins with cold-like symptoms, such as a low fever, cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis, or pink eye. Then a rash of blotchy red spots breaks out starting at the head and spreading to the rest of the body.
Measles can be serious, and there is no treatment or cure. Some children may have very mild symptoms, but others may face more serious complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis.
Nationally, the number of measles cases reported is the highest in the U.S. since 1994. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but it is still common in many other countries with lower vaccination rates. The CDC says 9 out of 10 unvaccinated people will contract measles if exposed to the virus.
Anyone born before 1957 is considered immune to measles because almost all individuals born prior to that year likely had measles. All family members should be up-to-date on MMR vaccine, especially before international travel. Healthcare providers can help determine if more vaccine doses are needed before traveling.
More information is available at www.cdc.gov/measles or https://www.in.gov/isdh/25456.htm.
Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at http://www.in.gov/isdh/ or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.