Measles vaccination is important, since we are protecting our children who are too young to be vaccinated against the highly infectious viral disease.

The best way to prevent measles is by everyone getting vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

Individuals who are vaccinated and immune to measles act as a shield around those who cannot get the shot, which includes children under 4 or individuals with allergies or illness.

When vaccination numbers decrease, that shield (i.e. herd immunity) develops holes that the infection can slip through.

Measles is highly contagious.

A person infected with measles can spread the disease to others up to 24 hours before symptoms start. By the time the rash appears four days later, a person has been contagious for nearly five days on average.

If you are unvaccinated (i.e. not immune) and you come in contact with a person infected with measles, you have a 90 percent chance of getting measles.

The viral disease starts with cough, runny nose, high fever and red-watery eyes followed in three to five days by a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the whole body.

Common complications include ear infections and diarrhea. Serious complications include pneumonia (most common cause of death) and encephalitis (brain swelling).

The youngest, oldest and sickest are at highest risk of serious complications. In unvaccinated pregnant women, measles can cause pre-term delivery and low-birth-weight babies.

If you have not done so already, protect yourself and our community and have yourself and your Family vaccinated.

If you think that you or a loved one has the measles, please call your health-care facility before showing up. This will allow them to be prepared to care for you and prevent spread of this illness to patients in the waiting room.

More measles information is available at www.cdc.gov/measles/about/index.html.