By Michelle Thum
Regional Health Command Europe
Due to an increased prevalence of measles and mumps in Europe, Public Health Command Europe officials are recommending that military community members ensure their measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are up to date.
Children in the United States typically receive the MMR vaccine at 12 months, and a second dose at approximately four years of age. However, PHCE officials recommend a more aggressive vaccination schedule for children of service members and civilians living in Europe, due to the increased likelihood of exposure to both mumps and measles.
Adults and children older than 12 months require two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. The first is given at 12 months of age and the second as soon as practical at least 4 weeks later. In addition to these two shots, children under 12 months of age should receive an additional dose to protect them until their 12 month old shot.
“Mumps and measles are more common here [Europe] than in the United States, which is why the vaccine schedule in Europe is more aggressive,” said Col. Rodney Coldren, Chief of Preventive Medicine at Public Health Command Europe. “Children and adults arriving in Europe should be screened to ensure their MMR status is current.”
While the shot is not always 100 percent effective, the effectiveness increases by the amount of doses. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one dose of MMR vaccine is 93 percent effective against measles, and 78 percent effective against mumps. Two doses of MMR vaccine are 97 percent effective against measles and 88 percent effective against mumps.
“The MMR shots are very safe and are effective at preventing measles, mumps, and rubella,” Coldren said. “And even if a vaccinated person does get mumps or measles, they will likely experience less severe illness than an unvaccinated person.”
The MMR vaccine is available all across Europe at both military medical treatment facilities and from civilian healthcare providers.
TRICARE beneficiaries can check their vaccination status by visiting www.TRICAREOnline.com. Click on the blue button “Health Record”. On the left side of the page, select “Immunizations”. Look for “measles, mumps, rubella virus vaccine” or “measles, mumps, rubella and varicella virus vaccine”.
If your child under 12 month hasn’t had the MMR vaccine, contact your primary care provider for more information.