By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The U.S. measles outbreak just topped 700 cases, making it the worst in 25 years. The serious virus, which was considered eliminated in the United States in 2000, is raising Good Questions.

Sherry from Savage asked: Are most adults protected? Do adults need a booster?

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The Centers for Disease Control recommends children receive two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine – one at 12-15 months and the second at 4 to 6 years old.

“You don’t need a booster after you’ve had your two doses of MMR,” says Jennifer Heath, a supervisor within the Minnesota Department of Health’s Vaccine and Preventable Disease. “There’s no evidence that measles immunity wanes.”

But what about adults who don’t remember if they got the shots?

“In the United States, most adults are protected,” Heath said. “But some adults aren’t.”

Anyone born before 1957 is considered protected because they likely had measles or were exposed to measles.

For some people vaccinated in the 1960s, it’s a different story. The CDC says people who received a live measles vaccine in the 1960s do not need revaccination, but people vaccinated with a killed measles vaccine should get an MMR shot.

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“Some adults would have received an older vaccine that wasn’t as effective, so those adults we’d say check your records,” Heath said. “If you don’t have a record, you can go out and ask for another dose of MMR vaccine, that’s usually the best thing to do.”

Between 1968 and 1989, some people might have only received one MMR dose. The federal guidelines for two MMR doses were introduced in 1989.

According to the CDC, one dose of MMR is 93% effective against measles. Two doses are 97% effective.

“Most people are protected with one dose,” Heath said.

But for people who travel internationally, two doses are recommended by the CDC.

People who are concerned can get a blood test at their doctor’s office to test for immunity, but Heath says there are no health downsides to simply getting another MMR shot.

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“The most practical solution is to go ahead and get a vaccine – it’ll eliminate the second trip to the doctor’s office,” she says.

Heather Brown