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DC Health Recommends Up-to-Date Measles Vaccinations for Children

Monday, March 25, 2024
In light of recent outbreaks, DC Health asserts the critical role of immediate and comprehensive immunization efforts

WASHINGTON, DC — DC Health advises all children to be fully vaccinated with the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine as the best protection against the wave of US measles outbreaks across 15 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. This year, to date, there have been no reports of measles cases in the District of Columbia and DC Health aims to prevent an outbreak before it can happen by ensuring as many people as possible have been vaccinated against measles.

Measles is highly contagious and is among the world’s leading causes of death in children, even though a safe and highly effective vaccine is available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children and adolescents aged 12 months and older get an MMR vaccine to help protect them from serious illness. A second dose is needed at 4 years of age. Children under five years of age, adults over 20 years of age, pregnant people and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk of measles complications.

“The recent US outbreaks serve as a powerful reminder of how essential vaccinations are in keeping our communities safe and healthy,” says Dr. Ayanna Bennett, director of DC Health. “This demands that we encourage proactive action to protect those who are at the highest risk of measles infection and complications.”

Symptoms of measles commonly include fever (as high as 104°F), cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes and a rash that shows up 3–5 days after symptoms begin. An infected person can spread the disease to other people before noticing any symptoms, especially in the four days before and after the rash develops. In severe cases, measles causes pneumonia, brain infection and seizures, or even death.

Parents traveling internationally with children should consult with their child’s healthcare provider to ensure that they are current with their MMR vaccinations at least 2 weeks before travel. Infants aged 6 to 11 months should have one documented dose and children aged 12 months and older should have two documented doses of MMR vaccine before international travel.

Since its elimination in the United States in 2000, measles outbreaks still pose a significant public health threat, often stemming from travelers or individuals bringing the infection into the country. These outbreaks primarily affect communities with lower vaccination rates, leading to heightened concern as approximately 1 in 5 unvaccinated individuals with measles require hospitalization. The measles vaccine, introduced in 1968, remains the most effective and safe measure to prevent hospitalizations, long-term health consequences and fatalities associated with this viral disease.

For information on where to obtain an MMR vaccination, a list of pediatric locations is available on Vaccinations are available at no cost to patients. If you need help finding health insurance, please visit DC Health Link.


The District of Columbia Department of Health promotes health, wellness and equity, across the District, and protects the safety of residents, visitors and those doing business in our nation’s capital.