CO public health officials: Check measles vaccinations before traveling



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DENVER — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment advises people who are traveling abroad or to areas in the U.S. with ongoing measles outbreaks to ensure they are protected against this highly contagious illness.

With measles outbreaks across the country, it’s a good idea to check vaccination records to ensure protection.

“It’s essential to know your vaccination or immunity status if you are planning to travel to areas where measles outbreaks have been reported,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state communicable disease epidemiologist.

“Measles, once considered eliminated in the U.S., has made a comeback. As you make your plans for travel, ensure checking vaccination records is on your list. We encourage everyone, regardless of travel, to be up to date on all recommended vaccines.”

Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is available at doctor’s offices and many retail pharmacies. People can check online to find a retail location.

The early symptoms of measles are fever; runny nose; cough; and red, watery eyes. Usually, one to four days after the early symptoms, a red rash appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. People with measles can spread the disease from four days before the rash appears until four days after it goes away.

If you are sick with these symptoms, contact a health care provider as soon as possible. Call the doctor’s office and tell them about your symptoms. To protect others, do not go inside a doctor’s office, urgent care or hospital unless instructed by your doctor.

Measles is not a mild illness. It can be serious in all age groups, but complications are most common in children under age 5 and adults over age 20.

Complications can include hospitalization and pneumonia. Encephalitis can occur in one of 1,000 cases, and death in one to two of 1,000 cases. Before the vaccine was widely available, 450-500 measles deaths occurred each year in the U.S.

People who need help paying for vaccinations should contact their local public health department.

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