Even if you got the measles vaccine, you may not be protected against the disease — here’s how to tell

A nurse administers a mumps, measles, and rubella vaccination shot.

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A nurse administers a mumps, measles, and rubella vaccination shot.
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Mark Kegans/Getty Images

  • As measles cases continue to pop up across the US, making sure you have the measles vaccine to stay protected is more important than ever.
  • A man who thought he was properly vaccinated for measles as a child ended up spreading the disease in Michigan after he contracted it unknowingly.
  • Even if a person has received the measles vaccine before, they may not be protected and need a second round of shots.
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As measles cases continue to pile up across the United States, health officials are urging people to double check whether they are vaccinated against the disease.

This warning comes after officials traced Michigan’s measles outbreak to a man who thought he was properly vaccinated against measles, but contracted the disease in New York and brought it to Michigan during his travels, Detroit Free Press reported.

Upon further investigation, they found that the man was in his mid-40s and therefore born during a time when healthcare providers recommended only one round of the measles shot for adequate immunity. This was the case between 1957 and 1989.

“He, like the many people in his age group exposed here, found out the hard way that the recommendations from those years are inadequate in the face of an actual measles outbreak,” Leigh-Anne Stafford, a spokeswoman for the Oakland County Health Division in Michigan, told Detroit Free Press. “Some people born before 1957, although supposedly ‘presumed immune,’ also found they lacked immunity.”

Gaps in vaccine coverage have led to a spike in global measles cases.

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Gaps in vaccine coverage have led to a spike in global measles cases.
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John Moore/Getty Images

These days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two doses of the vaccine for the best protection against measles. The CDC suggests children get their first dose between 12 and 15 months old and their second dose between ages 4 and 6. One dose is 93% effective at protecting against measles, but two doses is 97% effective.

Read more: New York City declared a public health crisis after 285 measles cases were reported in Brooklyn

If you were born between 1957 and 1989, the best way to make sure you’re fully protected against measles is to check your state immunization database (in Michigan, that’s the Michigan Care Improvement Registry). You can also check with your childhood healthcare provider to see if you received two rounds of vaccinations.

A doctor can also check antibodies in your blood to find out if you’re fully protected. If a test doesn’t detect any measles antibodies in your blood, it means you’re not protected and need the MMR vaccine.