Providers Should Consider Giving Kids 2nd Dose of Measles Vaccine Sooner as Chicago Sees New Cases, Health Officials Say

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

The Chicago Department of Public Health is recommending medical providers consider administering a second dose of the measles vaccine to children earlier than usual, following community spread of measles in the last several weeks, the agency said Friday.

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

The city has seen 64 measles cases since early March, after not having a confirmed case of the virus in almost five years. Eleven new measles cases have been reported so far this month, with a peak in reported cases occurring in late March, according to CDPH’s measles dashboard.

Measles cases in Chicago account for more than half of reported cases in the U.S. so far this year. More than half of the measles cases in the city were in children ages 4 or younger. 

Most of the measles cases are connected to a migrant shelter in Pilsen; however, city health officials are also warning of measles cases in the broader community.

“We need everyone – whether a new arrival or a longtime Chicagoan – to ensure they and their family members are up to date on their vaccinations,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Olusimbo ‘Simbo’ Ige said in a statement. “Too many Chicagoans are still not vaccinated against this highly contagious virus and other vaccine-preventable diseases.”

The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or MMR vaccine, is considered highly effective at preventing measles. One dose of the vaccine — typically given at 12 to 15 months of age — is about 93% effective against the disease. A second dose — typically given at 4 to 6 years of age — bumps the efficacy up to 97%.

Now, CDPH is recommending medical providers consider administering the second MMR dose to Chicago children over 12 months of age on an earlier schedule — as soon as 28 days after a first dose — especially if those children are attending school or day care.

“When we see community transmission, we’ll oftentimes take a measure to boost that immunity with the second shot,” said Dr. Larry Kociolek, pediatric infectious diseases physician at Lurie Children’s Hospital. “That’s something providers can discuss with their patients and determine if that’s the right measure for them.”

Children who receive two appropriately timed MMR doses before 4 years of age should not need any additional doses in their lifetime, the city health department said.

So far, CDPH has reported administering more than 17,000 measles vaccine doses to Chicago residents, including newly arrived migrants at the Pilsen shelter, since the start of the measles outbreak on March 7.

“(It’s) hard to tell the end of an outbreak, but we certainly see the protection of this community in the setting and we’re certainly at the tail end of those cases presenting,” Massimo Pacilli, deputy commissioner of the disease control bureau at the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a media briefing last week.

Measles is a highly contagious, airborne respiratory infection that can lead to pneumonia and other serious complications. Symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red and watery eyes.

While cases of measles are rare in Chicago due to high vaccination coverage from childhood, CDPH said, measles cases have been increasing recently in the U.S. and can be dangerous to those who are unvaccinated, especially babies and young children.

The increase in measles cases in Illinois, and in several other U.S. states, is a “fairly predictable consequence” of slowly declining vaccine rates all over the country, Kociolek said.

The MMR vaccine is available at most doctor’s offices and pharmacies. Additionally, CDPH’s immunization clinics provide the MMR vaccine for no out-of-pocket cost to any child through 18 years of age and uninsured adults 19 and older.

Contact Eunice Alpasan: @eunicealpasan | 773-509-5362 | [email protected]

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors