News about immunizations and vaccinations comes out daily, what with the recent measles outbreaks. It leaves a lot of older adults wondering whether or not they are immune or should be vaccinated. Following is information provided to AgeWise King County by our friends at Public Health—Seattle & King County, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you were born before 1957, you do not need the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Before vaccines were available, nearly everyone was infected with measles, mumps, and rubella viruses during childhood and are therefore presumed to be protected against these diseases.
For those born in 1957 or later, you do not need the MMR vaccine if you meet any of these criteria for evidence of immunity:
- You have written documentation of adequate vaccination:
- At least one dose of a measles-, mumps-, and rubella-containing vaccine administered on or after the first birthday for preschool-age children and adults not at high risk for exposure and transmission.
- Two doses of measles- and mumps-containing vaccine for school-age children and adults at high risk for exposure and transmission, including college students, health care personnel, and international travelers.
- You had blood tests that show you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella.
- You have laboratory confirmation of past measles, mumps, or rubella infection.
If your were born in 1957 or later and you do not have evidence of immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella, talk with your doctor about getting vaccinated. If you’re unsure whether you’ve been vaccinated, you should first try to find your vaccination records. If you do not have written documentation of MMR vaccine, you should get vaccinated. The MMR vaccine is safe, and there is no harm in getting another dose if you are already immune to measles, mumps, or rubella.
A special note for those who received a measles vaccine in the 1960s:
- People who have documentation of receiving LIVE measles vaccine in the 1960s do not need to be revaccinated.
- People who were vaccinated prior to 1968 with either inactivated (killed) measles vaccine or measles vaccine of unknown type should be revaccinated with at least one dose of live attenuated measles vaccine. This recommendation is intended to protect those who may have received killed measles vaccine, which was available in 1963–1967 and was not effective.
For more information, read Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know on the Centers for Disease Control website. More importantly, talk with your health care provider.
Your Yearly Wellness Visit
Annual wellness exams are a good idea for all ages and especially important for healthy child development and healthy aging. If you have had Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage for longer than 12 months, you pay nothing for your annual visit if your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts Medicare payment. This is a good time to:
- Review medical and family history.
- Develop or update your list of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications or supplements.
- Update your health care team roster (your current providers).
- Measure height, weight, and blood pressure.
- Discuss health care concerns, which may include memory issues.
- Get personalized health advice.
- Learn your risk factors and treatment options.
- Set up a screening schedule for appropriate preventive services.
- Ask about immunizations.
- Discuss advance care directives
Copays or the Part B deductible may apply if your health care provider performs additional tests or services during the same visit, if they are not covered under the preventive benefits. Be sure to ask in advance!