Measles is an infectious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily from person to person. The main symptom of measles is an itchy skin rash. The rash often starts on the head and moves down the body. Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Achy and run-down feeling
  • Tiny white spots inside the mouth

Sometimes measles can lead to serious problems. There is no treatment for measles, but the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine can prevent it.

There is no booster for the measles vaccine – most children today receive two MMR shots to fully ensure immunity, the first after 12 months of age and the second at 4 to 5 years old. The United States Center for Disease Control recommends vaccinations for adults who do not have written evidence of immunity.

You are considered protected from measles if you have documentation of at least one of the following:

  • Blood tests that show you are immune to measles, mumps and rubella
  • You were born before 1957
  • You have received two doses of MMR or one dose of MMR plus a second dose of measles vaccine
  • You have received one dose of MMR and are not at high risk of measles exposure

You should get the measles vaccine if you are not among the categories listed above, and:

  • You are a college student, trade school student or other student beyond high school
  • You work in a hospital or other medical facility
  • You travel internationally or are a passenger on a cruise ship
  • You are a woman of childbearing age

“German measles,” also known as rubella, is a completely different illness.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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