Blood test can determine measles immunity, experts say

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SAN DIEGO -- Medical experts are urging people who aren't sure whether they have been vaccinated for the measles to get a blood test.

Since the recent measles outbreak in Disneyland, 13 people in San Diego County reported being sick as of Jan. 21.

“People die of the measles … there are many things you can get … infections in your lungs, in your brain, so it’s very important to get vaccinated against this,” said Dr. Rebecca Preziosi of Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group.

But what if you are not sure if you have been vaccinated?

According to Dr. Preziosi, a simple blood test can tell whether you are immune or not. Lab results from the test can determine the level of antibodies in your system within 12 hours.

“Many people think measles were eradicated but it's coming back because of this outbreak and many of it is due to travel,” Preziosi said.

The MMR vaccine is first given at 12 months. A second booster shot is given at age four or five. However, with the recent outbreak, even people who had been vaccinated got sick. According to experts, it's because not everyone got the second dose.

“One vaccine is about 90 percent effective and two vaccines is about 95 percent effective,” said Preziosi.

Measles symptoms start out like a bad cold and can include high fever, runny nose, sneezing and its trademark red rash days later.

People over the age of 57 are believed to have a natural immunity due to prior exposure, but if they aren’t sure, experts say a test is the best bet.

“This is where we talk about heard immunity, meaning that if we vaccinate everybody, most people will be immune,” said Preziosi.

According to healthcare professionals, it's never too late to get the second booster shot. It can take up to eight days to become effective.

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