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    Unvaccinated adult travelers pose measles risk

    As physicians grapple with vaccine refusal and vaccine hesitation, one way to protect against the spread of vaccine-preventable disease is to limit its entry to the United States. In today’s global culture, a new study has found that more than half the measles cases imported to the U.S. are from adult travelers who were not immune to the disease prior to traveling abroad.

    The report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that many adults traveling internationally aren’t receiving the recommended vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) prior to travel. The American Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that all U.S. international travelers be immune to measles before departure in order to limit the importation of the disease into the U.S. Immunity is achieved by receiving two lifetime doses of the MMR vaccine with additional markers of immunity including a positive measles serology or physician documented history of measles illness, according to the report.

    Emily P. Hyle, MD, MSc, an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the report, told Medical Economics the study reveals that 16% of the 40,000 adult travelers studied between 2009 and 2014 were eligible for MMR vaccination prior to international travel, but 53% of them were not vaccinated at a pre-travel medical visit and 48% refused a physician’s recommendation for the vaccine. Another 28% of travelers were not vaccinated based on provider decision, and 24% because of health system barriers, according to the report.

    “We hope that our study will raise awareness of the ACIP recommendation that all U.S. residents be immune to measles prior to international travel,” Hyle said. “Providers who see patients prior to travel should be asking about past MMR vaccinations and recommending MMR vaccination to non-immune travelers who are eligible for the MMR vaccine.”

    Next: Reminders of recent illness

    Rachael Zimlich, RN
    Rachael Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare ...

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