Measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. One dose of MMR vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus, and two doses are about 97% effective. In the United States, widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era. Since 2000, when measles was declared eliminated from the U.S., the annual number of people reported to have measles ranged from a low of 37 people in 2004 to a high of 644 people in 2014. Most of these originated outside the country or were linked to a case that originated outside the country.
Measles is still common in other countries. The virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly in areas where people are not vaccinated. Worldwide, an estimated 20 million people get measles and 146,000 people die from the disease each year—that equals about 400 deaths every day or about 17 deaths every hour.
CDC recommends all children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Children can receive the second dose earlier as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.
Students at post-high school educational institutions
Students at post-high school educational institutions who do not have evidence of immunity against measles need two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.
Adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.
People 6 months of age and older who will be traveling internationally should be protected against measles. Before any international travel—
- Infants 6 through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine. Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose at least 28 days later).
- Children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.
- Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.