Pediatrician: Vaccinations key to stop measles

Published 11:56 pm Friday, May 3, 2019

1 case to date in Alabama

The Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed that there is a positive measles case in St. Clair County and local pediatrician Dr. Bhagwan Bang wants to answer questions for concerned parents.

“The No. 1 question that I keep getting is, ‘My child is not old enough to receive the vaccine yet. What do I do?’” Bang said. “For most infants, the time to get vaccinated is 12 to 16 months and four to six years, because most mothers pass on their immunity to their infants, which will hopefully last until that time, but it is not definite.”

If people are planning to travel, Bang suggests that patients should vaccinate their baby a little earlier than planned.

“Some doctors do vaccinate babies that are around six months old,” Bang said. “So, if you are traveling internationally or to an area where there is a measles outbreak. However, you may still have to take the other two doses when they are older.”

For every single case of measles, 12-18 additional cases can be expected. The complication rate from measles is about 20-30 percent, especially in infants, children less than 5 years of age, and persons 20 years and older. Complications can range from ear infections and pneumonia to deadly encephalitis. For every 1,000 people with measles, one to two people will die.

According to Alabama Department of Public Health, the infant in Alabama was considered contagious from April 23, 2019, through May 1, 2019. ADPH is working to confirm the diagnosis and to contact those exposed. The child is not in daycare and has had no out-of-state travel. 

So far in 2019, ADPH has conducted 174 investigations, including 32 open investigations, but this is the first presumptive positive case.

One of the main problems that Bang is seeing today is people not vaccinating their children.

“People don’t understand the impact they are causing when they do not vaccinate their children,” Bang said. “There is something called herd immunity, in the case of measles, that means that about 90 percent of the nation is immune to the measles virus or has taken a vaccine. So, as long as the measles immunity stays above 90 percent then the virus cannot be transmitted. When people stop vaccinating their children, that percentage starts going down and if it gets less than 90 percent then you will start seeing more people being infected. Measles is extremely contagious. If one person sneezes, then it can affect 12 people in the room. Compare that to Ebola, where if one person sneezes only two people get infected.”

Bang said that for adults who are worrying about getting vaccinated, if they were vaccinated after 1986, then they should be O.K.

“The measles vaccine was introduced in 1963,” Bang said. “If adults were born in 1963 through 1967, they should be vaccinated again, because during that period, the vaccination was not very effective. For adults that were born after 1986, they should be fine because that is when they introduced double doses for the vaccination.”

According to Bang, there is no treatment for measles.

“They tell me to give Vitamin A,” Bang said. “But other than that there is no treatment for the measles. Symptoms for the infection include, a fever of about 104 degrees or 105, a rash, cough, runny nose and red eyes.”

Bang said that the main thing parents need to do is vaccinate their children.

“The problem with the antivac people is that they are believing things that just aren’t true,” Bang said. “They are reading a publication from a British physician who produced a false document saying that one out of 12 patients were diagnosed with autism because of the measles vaccination. That is entirely wrong and it took them nine years to figure that out and he got his license taken away. In those nine years, people started reading the document and believing him and they don’t understand the damage that is being done.”

If anyone has any questions about the measles or being vaccinated, Bang suggests calling their physician.