Nearly 20 years ago, health officials declared that one of the world’s most contagious diseases, measles, was gone from the U.S. for good. That has changed — measles is making a comeback. This year alone, over 980 cases have hit the U.S., and the number is increasing daily.
So how did it come back? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it’s because fewer Americans are getting vaccinated against the disease than in the recent past.
Measles is one of 16 diseases health officials say can be prevented by getting a vaccine. All children, teens and adults should be immunized against measles and other dangerous diseases. And since some vaccines can wear off over time, you should ask your doctor if and when you need to get a vaccine again.
Vaccines help protect against disease while also helping to prevent deaths. Healthy people getting vaccinated also helps protect vulnerable people in your community who may not be able to get certain vaccinations.
Who Needs Vaccines?
The CDC’s vaccine recommendations are divided into three age groups — birth to age 6, ages 7 to 18, and 19 and older. These general recommendations are based on factors such as exposure risk and health status.
It’s important that you keep your kids on the recommended shot schedules to protect their immune systems. Some diseases can be dangerous, even deadly, to unprotected immune systems.
There are some other vulnerable groups who should talk to a doctor about vaccines too:
- Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
- People with chronic illnesses that make it easy to get sick
- Those who are going through cancer treatment
- The elderly
What vaccinations you need depends on factors such as your age, lifestyle, health issues, job and prior vaccines. Talk to your doctor about what vaccinations you and your family need and when you need them.
Staying Up to Date
The CDC offers a guide for vaccines by age. Growing Up with Vaccines: What Should Parents Know? explains what vaccines are important for every age group.
Be sure to check your health plan benefits to see:
- What vaccines are covered and if you will owe any copay
- Where and how often vaccines are covered (time of year, type of visit, how far apart)
- Which types of a vaccine are covered if there are different options (flu mist or flu shot)
Find out what preventive care you and your family need.
Our wellness guidelines outline the preventive vaccines, health screenings and other wellness steps you should take to stay healthy.
*Preventive services at no cost applies only to members enrolled in non-grandfathered health plans. You may have to pay all or part of the cost of preventive care if your health plan is grandfathered. To find out if your plan is grandfathered or non-grandfathered, call the customer service number on your member ID card.
Sources: Vaccines & Immunizations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2016; Measles Cases and Outbreaks, CDC, 2019; Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule, CDC, 2019; Key Facts about Seasonal Flu Vaccine, CDC, 2018; People at High Risk for Flu Complications, CDC, 2018; Summary of the 2017-2018 Influenza Season, CDC, 2018