Measles Vaccinations

by | 7 Feb, 2023 | Vaccinations

As you may be aware, the recent measles outbreak has called for children to receive measles vaccines to increase the community’s immunity against measles.

In South Africa there are 2 types of measles vaccines available:

  1. Monovalent (this only contains measles) – given from the age of 6 months
  2. Trivalent (this contains measles, mumps and rubella aka MMR) – given from the age of 1 year

The current campaign that is running is aimed at targeting children between the ages of 6 months and 15 years. Vaccine administration has been highly influenced by the Covid pandemic & increased movements against vaccination programs.

Like any other vaccine, the measles vaccine is not a 100% effective against measles (it is 95% effective). The effectiveness is at its peak when children have the 2 doses as required by the EPI Vaccination Schedule. This still allows for an adequate cover to cause mild disease if contracted.

What are the important things to remember that may influence your decision to vaccinate your child now?

  • The vaccine is contraindicated in pregnant women, symptomatic immunocompromised patients (for example those living with HIV that are ill), acute febrile illness in any child (fever >38.5°C).
  • Vaccines can be administered in children with mild illness (you can discuss this with the healthcare professional that is administering the vaccines).
  • No one that has received blood products or immunoglobulins within the last 3 months may get the measles vaccine.
  • Children that suffer from convulsions are NOT contraindicated to receiving the vaccine.
  • Egg allergy is NOT a contraindication to receiving the measles vaccine (in all cases of vaccine administration all children should be monitored for 15 minutes post-administration for reactions).
  • Some of the vaccines do contain gelatine.
  • Overall safer to receive the vaccine on its own (4 weeks apart from other vaccines) although there are exceptions to this
  • 5 to 14 days after the measles vaccine has been administered children may develop some of these symptoms – mild fever, rash, and swollen parotid glands (especially with the trivalent vaccines). It is important to note that this is an adverse event from the vaccine and children are NOT contagious

What happens if your child has already received 1 dose of the MMR between 12 months and 6 years of age?

They can get the second dose (even before it is due on the scheduling)

If your child is up to date with 2 MMR vaccines, do they need another vaccination?

They can get another dose BUT this time around they only receive a monovalent vaccine (and not MMR)

Please remember that the EPI Vaccination Schedule does differ between the public and private sector. If you have any queries, discuss these with your family doctor or nurse administering vaccines.

Written by Dr Larisse Badenhorst