You’ve likely heard that measles cases in the United States are on the rise. Measles is mostly thought of as a childhood illness, but it can affect people of any age. Although once nearly eradicated, 764 cases of measles have been reported in the United States this year.
You may think that your elderly parent isn’t at risk for getting the measles because they were vaccinated as a child. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that certain groups of people are at high risk for the disease and should receive a booster vaccination. In addition, immunity from the vaccination can wear off.
What is Measles?
Measles is caused by a virus. Symptoms of the infection start within 10 to 14 days after a person is exposed to the virus.
Symptoms of measles infection include:
- White spots on a reddish background. The spots have bluish-white centers. These spots appear on the insides of the cheeks and the mouth.
- A skin rash with large, flat blotches.
- Sore throat.
- Runny nose.
- Inflammation in the eyes.
Measles is a dangerous illness because it can lead to serious complications, such as:
- Ear infection.
Who Needs a Booster Shot?
Some adults are at higher risk for contracting the measles and should definitely talk to their doctor about getting a booster vaccination.
People considered at high risk are:
- People who live in areas where a measles outbreak is occurring.
- People who travel internationally.
- Health care workers.
Most adults are considered immune to measles because of their own childhood vaccinations or because they were born during a time when there was no vaccine available. Those born before the vaccine likely had the illness and are now immune. However, there is evidence that the measles vaccination can wear off, making infection a possibility. A blood test can determine if your elderly parent is no longer immune to measles. The blood test looks for measles antibodies. If they are not present, your parent should probably receive a booster vaccination.
If your parent needs a measles vaccination, a home health care provider can drive them to get one. In the event that they do get measles, a home health care provider can take care of them while they recover. Home health care providers can offer comfort and companionship. Home health care providers can prepare warm drinks to soothe a sore throat and healthy meals that provide the nutrients the body needs to fight off the illness.