More US Travelers Need to Get Vaccinated Against Measles

Although the disease was eliminated in the US in 2000, foreign travel can still bring it home today.
Although the disease was eliminated in the US in 2000, foreign travel can still bring it home today.

HealthDay News -- According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than half of eligible Americans traveling abroad do not get a measles vaccine, and a key reason is lack of concern about the disease.

Emily Hyle, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues looked at 40,810 US adults born after 1956 who were seen at pre-travel clinics from 2009 through 2014. 

Of those, 84% were immune to measles, primarily due to vaccinations. Of the remaining vaccine-eligible travelers, 53% were not vaccinated during their clinic visit. In 48% of those cases, the patients refused the vaccine. In 28%, health care providers did not suggest vaccination, and in 24% of the cases, the traveler was referred elsewhere.

Among those who refused the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, 74% were not worried about measles, 20% were concerned about vaccine safety, and 6% had issues with the cost, according to the researchers.

"We can definitely improve how often providers specializing in pre-travel medical advice offer MMR vaccine to eligible travelers, and encourage clear discussions with patients about the risks of contracting measles and of spreading the disease after their return to the US," Hyle said in a hospital news release. 

"Since more than 60% of the measles importations into the country are due to returning US travelers, increasing the number of travelers who are immune to measles will reduce the number of measles cases."

References

Hyle EP, et al. "Missed Opportunities For Measles, Mumps, Rubella Vaccination Among Departing US Adult Travelers Receiving Pre-travel Health Consultations." Annals of Internal Medicine. 2017. doi: 10.7326/M16-2249 [Epub ahead of print]

Handy LK and Offit PA. "Why Aren't International Travelers Vaccinated For Measles?" Annals of Internal Medicine. 2017. doi: 10.7326/M17-1044 [Epub ahead of print]

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