Health

County Urges Adults to Be Aware of Their Vaccination History

Along with continuing to urge parents to ensure their infants are vaccinated, San Diego County public health officials are advising adults to be aware of their inoculation history and records.

Doing so now is timely, as a nationwide measles outbreak grows outside of San Diego’s borders, and the curious, and quarantined, in affected area scramble for proof of their vaccination status.

“A child or adult who has received two doses of the MMR vaccine for protection against measles, mumps and rubella is about 97 percent protected,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., San Diego County public health officer. “However, because memory can be hazy and vaccination records hard to find, it is important for adults to know their options when it comes to immunizations.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people born in the United States before 1957 are considered immune since the disease was widespread and vaccines were unavailable during their youth. Those born between 1957 and 1963 may need to be revaccinated because an earlier version of the vaccine was not as effective, and people may have had only one vaccination.

For the rest, it is a matter of ensuring they have been vaccinated and having access to the right records.

In the case of adults who lack evidence of immunity, the CDC recommends an MMR vaccination.

“Fortunately, the MMR vaccination is available and in ample supply,” said Dr. Wooten. “Adults with questions about their vaccination history should contact their medical provider and, if necessary, schedule a vaccination. Those without insurance can call 2-1-1 to determine the right vaccination resource, or visit a County Public Health Center.”

Being up to date on the MMR vaccination is especially important for people who are planning to travel to countries with active measles outbreaks, such as Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines, or who work in health care.

Along with peace of mind, proof of vaccination could prove helpful, should an adult in San Diego find themselves exposed to the highly-contagious measles virus. In Los Angeles, more than 200 college students and employees who were exposed to measles were ordered to stay home because they lacked proof of vaccination.

“San Diego County’s Public Health Department works closely with the local college community on vaccinations,” said Dr. Wooten. “I’m confident that my colleagues on campus know the importance of immunizations and maintaining records, but this outbreak happening for now outside our county’s borders is a good reminder for us all.”