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PLYMOUTH, Minn. (WCCO) – The recent measles outbreak in Minnesota is changing the way some doctors and parents are handling immunizations. The standard recommendation for the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is one shot between 12 and 15 months, and a booster shot before preschool at 4 to 6 years old.
But during this outbreak, at least one clinic is moving up when children get that second shot.
When Michelle Rampetsreiter got the call from South Lake Pediatrics, she came right in for 3-and-a-half-year-old Olivia and her 22-month-old sister Audrey to get their second shots.
“It’s an easily preventable disease,” said Rampetsreiter. “So I just thought we better come in to get it checked out.”
With 23 cases of measles now confirmed in Minnesota, South Lake Pediatrics notified all its patients who haven’t had a booster yet.
“Our numbers told us that for kids under six or seven, we had 4,000 that had less than two doses,” said Dr. Michael Garvis.
Although the standard is 5 years old for the booster, the second shot is just as effective as long as it’s given more than 28 days after the first.
So the Minnesota Department of Health said during an outbreak, early boosters are reasonable and appropriate to protect children from the disease.
“All the data and all the science suggest that this will be their last dose,” said Garvis. “It’ll just be done earlier than it was otherwise, so they’ll have hopefully one fewer shot when they’re 4 or 5.”
Some parents still avoid immunizations because of old concerns about autism, mercury and many other things. But Garvis said that’s changing.
“Now that measles is back here and other people are in the hospital, quite a few people who refused the vaccines completely are coming in to have it done. So once the disease comes back, they’re OK with it,” he said.
Garvis said the first shot gives children 95 percent protection from measles. The booster brings it up to more than 99 percent.
And why do they traditionally wait until 5 years to give the measles shot? To pair it with some other shots that do need to wait that long.