Traveling and the Measles Vaccine

Many eligible travelers didn't receive measles vaccine before going abroad

(RxWiki News) Many United States travelers who were eligible to receive the measles vaccine didn't receive it before leaving the country, according to a new study.

And going abroad without protection from the measles might contribute to measles outbreaks in the US.

"Measles has been eliminated in the US since 2000, which means that all measles cases in the country can be traced back to an imported case — either a foreign visitor or a US resident returning from international travel," said lead study author Dr. Emily Hyle, of Massachusetts General Hospital, in a press release. "Since more than 60 percent of the measles importations into the country are due to returning US travelers, increasing the number of travelers who are immune to measles will reduce the number of measles cases."

Still, among more than 6,600 patients who visited clinics before traveling and who were eligible for the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, 53 percent didn't receive the vaccine, this study found.

The reason? Around 48 percent of vaccine-eligible patients declined the vaccine, 28 percent were not offered the vaccine and 24 percent were referred to another health care provider.

"We can definitely improve how often providers specializing in pre-travel medical advice offer MMR vaccine to eligible travelers and encourage clear discussions with patients about the risks of contracting measles and of spreading the disease after their return to the US," Dr. Hyle said.

Ask your health care provider about which vaccines you need before leaving the country.

This study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health funded this research. Information on potential conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.

Review Date: 
May 23, 2017