The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is advising the public on the availability and importance of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, or MMR, due to large outbreaks of measles in the Philippines and the United States, particularly Washington state, Oregon, and California.
“We want to encourage the community to get vaccinated with the MMR vaccine and ensure that children are up to date with age appropriate immunizations,” said the CHCC advisory.
“For those who are travelling to a measles infected area, we encourage getting the MMR vaccine 28 days prior to departure, with a minimum of 14 days prior to departure, to give the vaccine time to take effect.
“The CDC recommends two doses of the MMR vaccine given 28 days apart, with the second dose given at least 28 days before travel.
“Air travel additionally makes it easier for diseases to spread, particularly an airborne and highly contagious diseases like measles.
Adults with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, are at greater risk of complications from infection and even death if not properly immunized. Children under 12 months of age and people who have compromised immune systems are also at greater risk of contracting diseases that can make them very ill,” said the CHCC advisory.
It said the MMR vaccine is not licensed for those under 12 months of age, and people with compromised immune systems—such as the elderly or people undergoing chemotherapy—often cannot get vaccinated. These vulnerable sectors of the population rely on “herd immunity,” where the rest of the community protects them from disease by being vaccinated and healthy.
“The more people in our community who are vaccinated, the greater the net of protection around everyone. Getting ourselves and our children vaccinated not only protects our family; it also protects those around us at school, work, church, and everywhere we go in our community,” states the CHCC advisory.
The MMR vaccine will be given at no cost by the CHCC Immunization Clinic, and at the Tinian and Rota health centers.
“ Visit your local public health immunization clinic so we may assist you and your family in protecting against measles and other diseases for which there is a vaccine,” the CHCC advisory added.
As a reminder, the MMR vaccine has been shown by multiple credible studies to be safe and effective, and there is no scientific link between the MMR vaccine and autism or any other health complications. The incorrect link between the MMR vaccine and autism resulted mainly from a study by Andrew Wakefield, which has since been retracted and proven false. On the other hand, the risks of not getting vaccinated are very real and can have dangerous consequences.
For more information contact CHCC’s Public Health Immunization Program on Saipan at 236-8745/8708/8781, on Rota at 532-9451, and on Tinian at 433-9233. (PR)