By Rabbi Aaron E. Glatt, MD
The community held a successful measles educational and titer-testing day on Sunday, May 12, at the Young Israel of Woodmere. This event was cosponsored by many community organizations, and could not have been accomplished without all of their support. Kamin Health Urgent Care Centers provided the nucleus of the testing, with Mount Sinai South Nassau Communities Hospital, Hatzalah, and Achiezer sending nurses and volunteers to round out a great team. Hosted by the Young Israel of Woodmere, and cosponsored by Kamin Health, Mount Sinai South Nassau, Achiezer, Hatzalah, the JCCRP, Gural JCC, and the Nassau County Department of Health, the event was preceded by a shiur from Rabbi Dr. Glatt regarding the halachic and medical indications for vaccination and testing.
At the end of the event, 755 community members were tested, and unfortunately some people had to actually be turned away because the lines were still quite long near closing time. Volunteers (including many mothers who gave of their own time on Mother’s Day!) stayed till after 3:00 p.m. to finish the testing. Anyone in need of testing can still have this test easily performed by any physician ordering a simple blood test. Vaccinations for those in need can be obtained in many physician offices, at Kamin Health, or at the Mount Sinai Doctors Hewlett site by appointment. YIW is working on possibly having a community vaccination event in the future as well.
As part of the education component of the program, many people were told that they do not require testing and are presumed immune. In the hopes of preventing such occurrences, the organizers are providing some of the guidelines here, but please discuss with your physician how this applies to you. These are appropriate guidelines for people living in non-endemic areas, but some medical recommendations would be potentially different in an endemic setting.
Measles is a highly contagious, serious, potentially fatal disease. Fortunately, only a small percentage of people develop serious complications. It is preventable through vaccination.
We STRONGLY RECOMMEND that EVERYONE should be up to date on ALL contagious-illness vaccinations, but especially measles (part of the MMR vaccine). Based upon the best recommendations from the CDC and other sources, the following were the recommendations provided at the event.
- If you have received the recommended two doses of the MMR vaccine, no further action is recommended at this time. Titer testing is not necessary.
- If you had measles, you are protected, and no action is necessary.
- If you were born before 1957, it is assumed that you had measles and are considered immune, and no further action is required. If you have reason to believe that you are not immune (e.g., if you had a blood test showing no immunity to measles and/or you have no history of having measles), consult your physician regarding the administration of the MMR vaccine. It is safe at any age, although there are some people who medically cannot receive the vaccine. Ask your doctor if you fall into those groups.
- People born between 1957 and 1963 who do not know if they had measles should discuss with their physician what to do. In the setting of a potential outbreak in the community you live in, please see your physician to discuss whether a blood test to check your immunity and/or vaccination is appropriate.
- People born between 1963 and 1968 may have received a measles vaccine that is less perfect in generating immunity. From 1968 to 1989, everyone vaccinated received a very good vaccine (similar to the vaccine used today), but only one dose was recommended. In the setting of a potential outbreak in the community you live in, please see your physician to discuss whether a blood test to check your immunity and/or vaccination is appropriate.
- Any adult who did not have measles and has not been vaccinated should get vaccinated with a total of 2 MMR shots separated by 28 days. If someone received only one dose of the MMR vaccine, in the setting of a potential outbreak in the community you live in, please see your physician to discuss whether a blood test to check your immunity and/or vaccination is appropriate.
- Please confirm for your own knowledge that all of your children have received the required two doses of the MMR vaccine.
- If your children received the first dose of MMR, but are not old enough to have received the second vaccine, which is usually given between ages 4 and 6, we recommend that you discuss with your pediatrician if they should receive the second dose early. This would be strongly recommended if there was an outbreak in the community you are in.
- If your child is less than 1 year old (the age when the first dose is typically administered), but older than 6 months, we recommend you discuss with your pediatrician if they should receive the first vaccine dose early. This would be strongly recommended if there was an outbreak in the community you are in.
- If you or your child develop any rash AND fever we ask that you please exercise the utmost precaution and obtain a medical evaluation BEFORE you enter any public spaces including shul.
Again, there is no cause for concern at this time in our community. However, with all the guests coming to our community from other places, possibly where exposure to measles occurred, we are being extra cautious.
We sincerely hope that you will find these recommendations useful; please ask your physician if you have additional questions.