Mar 12, 2015

Should You Before Spring Break?

Photo courtesy of Lynnette Bellin

We’re quite sure we don’t have to remind you, but Spring Break is right around the corner. And we’re also guessing you already have everything planned out and buttoned up: airfare, hotel, vaccinations, activities, tours...

Nope, this isn’t a game of “Which one isn’t like the others?” We meant vaccinations. So what do vaccines have to do with Spring Break? If you are traveling internationally or anywhere with large groups of people (which, during Spring Break, probably translates directly to “anywhere”), vaccinations should be the top item on your to-do list.

If you have been following the news and/or not living under a rock, you’ve heard of the Disneyland measles outbreak, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, links to many known measles cases. In fact, the CDC reported recently that from January 1 to February 27, 2015, 170 people from 17 states and the District of Columbia were reported to have measles — many of them with ties to the Disneyland outbreak.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella, and vaccination rates in the U.S. are generally high — though there are pockets throughout the country where vaccination rates dip below well herd immunity threshold. This means outbreaks can — and do — happen.

But other countries still struggle with large outbreaks due to lax vaccination standards, which means any place where large numbers of people congregate to travel — like, say, Disneyland — have the potential for greater incidence of exposure.

So, do you need a vaccine? Maybe. If you are an adult born before 1957, generally you are considered immune to measles.

Are you susceptible to getting measles? Probably, if you are not vaccinated.

For adults who were born during or after 1957 who do not have evidence of immunity against measles, it is recommended to get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine.

Reno resident Jackie Shelton is an example of this demographic. She was in the process of planning a vacation to Belize for her Spring Break, assuming she had all of her vaccinations. But because of the recent news about outbreaks, she started researching her immunization record.

“I believe vaccinations are important,” she said, “but I was not able to find any record of my vaccinations, which concerned me very much. So I have decided to get my MMR vaccine along with Hep A and B, just to be safe.

“First and foremost, I have a responsibility to keep myself protected from viruses,” she continued. “But as a human being, I feel that I also have a responsibility to protect others.”

Shelton knows that measles, mumps and rubella are serious diseases with potentially grave consequences.

“Of course I don’t want to expose myself or my children to deadly diseases just because I didn’t know for sure if I had been immunized,” she said. “It took a simple phone call to my general practitioner to ask which vaccinations I would need for international travel. I’d rather have peace of mind than wonder the whole time.”

The MMR vaccine was one of the recommendations from her physician, which is a live, weakened, combination vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. One dose of MMR vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus. 

So if Belize comes complete with white sandy beaches, umbrella drinks and a tourist or two who have not been vaccinated, Shelton and her kids are armed, immunized and ready.

The takeaway: Before you book any flights, hotels or tours — international or domestic — be sure to plan a trip to your local clinic to get immunized or a call to your family doctor to ask about what vaccinations you might need.

You can also view your vaccination record at Nevada Web IZ, where you can print off your record and a personalized list of recommended vaccinations.  Take that list into a local pharmacy that offers vaccinations, and the vaccination might even be covered by insurance. 

And if you’re traveling abroad, the CDC has a website with a comprehensive list of destinations as well as mode of travel, which will help you determine the necessary vaccinations. 

Our hope: that your 2015 Spring Break is filled with memories of sun and fun —not of hospitals and IVs.

Click here for a list of vaccination clinics.

Immunize Nevada

Immunize Nevada, an award winning 501c3 non profit, is widely recognized as Nevada’s trusted resource for immunizations and community health for all ages by fostering education and statewide collaboration.


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