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Attention adults: Measles isn’t just a danger to kids

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With measles a worry in Arizona, much of the focus is on the danger to unvaccinated children. But health officials and advocates say adults have reason to worry as well.

“We have adults that are hesitant to get the vaccine,” said Debbie McCune Davis, executive director of The Arizona Partnership for Immunization and a Democratic state lawmaker. “It’s a serious disease we have the ability to prevent.”

Measles, an airborne virus, is highly contagious. If you go to the grocery store two hours after someone with measles has been there, the odds are high that you’ll get it as well if unvaccinated, regardless of how old you are.

Many adults are concerned, calling the Arizona Department of Health Services in recent days to ask whether they’ve been vaccinated against measles. A large percentage of them are health care and child care workers, said Cara Christ, the agency’s chief medical officer

“We have had a lot more calls since the outbreak,” she said. “We have had lots of questions about measles, and we tell them to work with their health care provider.”

If you have had the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and booster, health officials say you don’t need it again and shouldn’t get it again. For those who are unsure whether they have been vaccinated, there is a blood test that can confirm whether a person has immunity.

McCune Davis said that being vaccinated means a 97 percent chance of not getting measles if exposed.

Some adults who have been vaccinated do have reason to be concerned, officials say, specifically those who have been treated for cancer or have had their immune systems compromised. Those people should consult their doctors and may wind up getting vaccinated again if they have lost immunity.