In the USA, there have been over 700 cases of measles since the start of the year, but there have been no cases at Harvard University and only two cases in Massachusetts. Most of the measles outbreak has been in New York, New Jersey, and California, and mainly in unvaccinated people.
Massachusetts immunization law requires Harvard students to have received two Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccines at least 28 days apart after age one or proof of immunity with a positive measles antibody titer (blood test). Since Harvard strongly enforces these state requirements, 99% of undergraduates and 98% of graduate students meet this requirement. We require documentation for those who are medically exempt from immunization or who have a personal/ religious exemption in case it is requested by the department of public health in an outbreak situation.
The vaccine recommendations for staff or others in the community is much the same as for students except for people born before 1957, when measles were more common. With so much disease in the community it was assumed everyone had been exposed, was immune and do not need to be immunized.Only measles vaccine given after 1968 are acceptable.
For those who had the standard vaccine series (two MMRs, 28 days apart), 97% of those immunized will have lifetime immunity, so a booster immunization (an additional vaccine) is not routinely recommended. However, if you are unsure or do not have good documentation, then we might recommend another MMR. After a person is vaccinated, it takes an additional 12-15 days for antibodies to develop and peak at 21 to 28 days for you to be considered protected.
For more information about the measles, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/measles
If you have specific questions about your immunization status, contact your primary care team.