Pediatrician says it’s ‘OK’ for babies to get MMR vaccine early

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ALABAMA - The Alabama Department of Public Health announced Thursday there is one confirmed case of the measles in Alabama. ADPH says an infant in Saint Clair County has the illness.

Officials say the baby is younger than the recommended age to start the MMR vaccine that protects against the measles. Children are not scheduled to get their first measles vaccine until they are a year old.

But some parents are concerned about that since it leaves their babies vulnerable to this disease. A mother of an 8-month-old decided to find out what could do to keep her baby safe.

Meet Micky, a smiley, sweet 8-month-old girl. She's just a few months shy of her scheduled MMR vaccine. With measles being confirmed in Alabama, Micky's Mom, Casey Walters, is concerned.

"Like any parent, you're always worried about your kids and something like this is scary," she said.

But Walters discovered she doesn't have to wait to vaccinate her daughter.

"I contacted my pediatrician and they said that she could have it," she said.

Dr. Kevin Ellis is a pediatrician at Huntsville Pediatric Associates which happens to be the same clinic Walters uses for her children. He says it's OK for children as young as six months old to get the shot.

"There's no dangers in getting the shot early," he said.

However, the child would still be susceptible to all the vaccine's side-effects.

He says the first measles vaccine is normally given to children at 12 months because they are old enough to build up strong immunity.

"If a child got a shot early between 6 and 12 months their titers would go up pretty up. It's debatable whether it would go up as well as a child at one year old, but they would be able to mount some defense. They would still need that booster at four or five years of age. And so, you're pretty well protected after your first shot," he said. "Even getting a shot a little bit early is great protection from measles and will get pretty high titers."

Dr. Ellis says measles is one of the most contagious diseases and for every one person who comes down with the virus on average they spread it to 20 people. That being said, he wants to remind parents that only one case has been confirmed in Alabama. He hopes that fact can put some of their worries to rest.

"I couldn't forgive myself if my child got measles and I could have done something about it," Walters said.

And that's why Walters is taking her baby to get vaccinated.

Walters did add that her insurance did not cover Micky's MMR vaccine because the child is receiving it early.

Should a child get their second MMR vaccine early?

Dr. Ellis recommends parents to talk to their pediatrician if they want to look into this.

Do adults need a booster shot?

The answer is, possibly.

Dr. Ellis says the strength of a person's immunity to measles has the potential to diminish over long periods of time. He recommends that people 60 and over get an MMR booster shot if they spend a lot of time with babies under a year old or plan on traveling. People can make an appointment with their doctor to have their measles immunity tested if they are concerned that they could be susceptible to the virus.

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