Once You Get The MMR Vaccine, Here's When It'll Actually Protect You

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Hepatitis B. Rotavirus. Varicella. When you take your little one to the pediatrician for her well-baby visits, there are a variety of vaccines that your baby is recommended to receive. But there’s one vaccine that some parents are particularly concerned about lately, and with good reason. Measles has suddenly seen a resurgence in the United States, which has many parents with unvaccinated children wondering – how long will it take for the MMR vaccine to work?

If you’ve forgotten to keep your kiddo’s vaccines schedule updated or have been on the fence about vaccines in general, you might start wondering how quickly the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) shot will protect your child once she receives it. The measles vaccine is effective pretty quickly, providing immunity in about 10-14 days, reported the The New York Times, and once your child has the vaccine, he should be immune from measles after the first shot. Children will need two shots: one between 12-15 months old (with some states allowing the shot to be administered at a younger age due to the outbreak), and the second one when they are 4-6. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that people should be fully protected after 2 or 3 weeks after receiving the shot, and that the double dosage for children is recommended for long-lasting prevention and that

To understand why the MMR vaccine is important, you'll need to have an understanding of just what measles is. In short, measles is an extremely contagious respiratory disease. Unfortunately, it’s also an airborne virus, so even something as simple as speaking to someone could potentially infect you, especially if you're not vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that it’s possible to catch measles just by being in a room with an infected person — even if that said someone left the room hours before. And it’s estimated that 90 percent of those who are not MMR vaccinated and exposed to measles will become sick, which is what makes young children and babies particularly susceptible to the disease.

The reason why measles hasn’t been a big deal up until now is because it was largely eradicated in the U.S. since 2000. Sadly, it’s seeing a fast and furious comeback, particularly in the New York City and Pacific Northwest areas. The New York Times reported that there are currently 880 cases of measles nationwide—and counting.

So what should a paranoid parent armed with WebMD and worry do in the meantime, though? Keep an eye out for initial symptoms that are likely to appear about 1-2 weeks after infection. Thing is, some of these symptoms — such as a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes — might be mistaken for anything from a cold to seasonal allergies. But here’s the marker: If your child begins to have small, white spots (called Koplik spots) inside his or her mouth, that could be an initial sign that they've contracted measles.

If you miss the Koplik spots, they're often followed by a rash consisting of red spots, according to the CDC. The rash then makes it way from the head down towards the feet, with bumps appearing on top of the spots. A fever spike of 104 degrees (or higher) is also typical as the disease advances.

If you spot any of the mentioned symptoms on yourself of your children, see a doctor right away, especially if you're in or near an area where there has been a recent measles outbreak. While there is no specific treatment for measles, it's important to keep tabs on your child incase it causes further infections, and also to keep them as comfortable as possible at home. Keep him hydrated and offer lots of rest; if him fever is making them uncomfortable, you can give him an over-the-counter acetaminophen, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. Hopefully your child will be back to her happy and healthy self in no time.

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