Closeup of a young boy with measles.

Measles Cases Are Rising

Los Angeles County recently confirmed its first case of measles in four years. Measles, a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease, is most common in young children. 

The LA County case involved a local resident who contracted measles while overseas. The County Department of Public Health reported the person was “under-immunized” making them susceptible to the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded at least 10 cases, including the one in California. Others were reported in Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Most cases are the result of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people traveling to countries with measles outbreaks, becoming exposed, and then spreading the disease here.

The U.S. is on pace for 120 cases this year — twice as many as 2023.

Easily Preventable

Measles has been effectively eliminated in the U.S. according to the World Health Organization (WHO) for nearly 20 years. That means there’s been no regularly occurring transmission of the virus. Any outbreaks are most often brought in from international travelers.

Most people in the U.S. are vaccinated against the measles, having received two doses of the measles-mumps-rueola (MMR) vaccine. It is part of the CDC’s routine immunization schedule.

It is also recommended that anyone traveling internationally check their immunization status before leaving the country.

Countries with recent measles outbreaks include the United Kingdom, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines.

A toddler boy with measles.

More Than a Rash

Measles is most dangerous for babies, young children, and people with compromised immune systems. Symptoms typically start seven to 14 days after infection. Look for:

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red watery eyes

White spots appear in the mouth two to three days after symptoms start. The rash comes three to five days after symptoms start. A fever could spike as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit when this happens.

Potential Complications

Measles is miserable enough without the complications that could come with the virus. They include:

  • Ear infections — for one of every 10 children with measles
  • Diarrhea — for less than one of 10 people with measles
  • Hospitalization — for one in five unvaccinated people
  • Pneumonia — for one of 20 children. It’s the most common killer of young children.
  • Encephalitis — occurs in one child of every 1,000 with measles. It can lead to convulsions, deafness, or an intellectual disability.
  • Death — for one to three of every 1,000 children infected.
  • Pregnancy complications — for women who get measles include premature birth or low birth weight babies.

Free Vaccinations at AltaMed

You can always get a free MMR vaccine at any AltaMed clinic. Better yet, we encourage you to follow your child’s immunizations schedule into adolescence so they are protected during every stage of life. At AltaMed, all the vaccinations the CDC recommends are available free of cost! We provide childhood and adolescent immunizations for patients 0-17 years of age.

It’s more important than ever to stay safe and healthy. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to schedule an appointment with your provider to stay on track with your child’s immunization timeline. 

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A child receiving their vaccine

Protect Your Child with Safe, Effective Immunizations

Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective ways to protect your child’s health. This winter, both children and adults face an increased risk from COVID-19, the flu, and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). Staying current on doctor-recommended vaccinations and immunizations will not only keep you and your family safe, but your friends, neighbors, and community as well. 

AltaMed is here to answer your questions about vaccines, including their safety, effectiveness, and which ones to get. 

Why Should I Vaccinate My Child?

Getting your child vaccinated between birth and six years of age protects them from 14 deadly diseases, including measles, mumps, and polio. Vaccinating your child also helps protect people who cannot get vaccinated themselves because they are too young or have certain health problems.

Children are most vulnerable when they are born, and they depend on you to make the right choices to keep them safe. Talk to your doctor about vaccines which you can receive during pregnancy that give your child’s immune system a boost when they are born, such as the RSV or Tdap vaccines

Once your child is born, it is critical to stick to the vaccination schedule provided by your child’s doctor. No matter the age, preventing dangerous diseases outweighs any possible vaccine side effects such as slight pain, swelling, or low-grade fever. These are important steps toward building your child’s immune system during their critical developmental stages.

Routine vaccinations are also needed during the adolescent years. The CDC recommends four vaccines for almost all children ages 9-12: meningococcal, human papillomavirus (HPV), the collective Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), and influenza (the flu). Meningococcal diseases are rare but are spread by sharing food and drinks or kissing. HPV is a virus that can cause cancer later in life, and is so common that almost everyone will get it at some point. HPV can cause cancer in both men and women and is often transmitted through sex. 

The Tdap vaccine is a booster for the children’s DTaP vaccine, necessary for older children because the effectiveness of the first vaccine wears off over time. Doctors recommend that all children six months and older receive the flu vaccine every year because the flu virus changes each year.

How Safe Are Vaccinations?

The short answer is very.

Most modern childhood vaccinations have been around for about 60 years. They were developed to stop the spread of infectious diseases that once killed thousands of people each year.

Vaccines are constantly re-evaluated and studied by scientists and researchers. Serious reactions to vaccines are rare, occurring only once in every million doses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Immunization Safety Office, the current vaccine supply in the United States is the safest in history.

Are There Rules or Laws about Vaccines?

The State of California requires all children attending public or private school to receive the doctor-recommended immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases. This mandatory vaccination helps keep overall immunity levels high and protects the community members, including other school children, who cannot receive vaccinations.

How Can I Prepare My Family for This Fall and Winter?

In 2023, experts anticipate that flu, COVID-19, and RSV infections will surge as people gather and spend more time indoors. Unfortunately, these viruses can cause serious harm for children, including difficulty breathing (sometimes long-lasting), severe lung problems like bronchiolitis or pneumonia, fever, coughing, headaches, nausea, and more. To protect children, the CDC has established new guidelines for vaccination and immunization: 

  • COVID-19 — Anyone six months and older is encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Most people five years and older only need one dose for strong protection.
  • RSV — Babies 0 to 24 months should be vaccinated during RSV season from October — March.
    • Babies born during RSV season should receive the RSV shot within one week of birth. 
    • Infants under eight months and babies between 8 and 24 months with high-risk conditions can receive a single-dose RSV immunization during RSV season.
    • Pregnant people in their third trimester during RSV season can get an RSV vaccine to protect their newborn babies.
  • Flu — Anyone six months and older is encouraged to get an annual flu vaccine.

At AltaMed, patients six years and older can receive their flu and COVID-19 vaccines in one visit. 

Free Vaccinations at AltaMed

We encourage you to follow your child’s immunizations schedule into adolescence, so your children are protected during every stage of their life. Here at AltaMed, all the vaccinations the CDC recommends are available free of cost! We provide childhood and adolescent immunizations for patients 0-17 years of age.

It’s more important than ever to stay safe and healthy. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to schedule an appointment with your provider to stay on track of your child’s immunization timeline. For information about COVID-19 and RSV, click here.


Growing Healthy: The Services Your Child Needs at Every Stage of Life

As a parent, it can be challenging to keep track of all the developmental milestones your child should be hitting, or the immunizations and screenings they should receive. However, monitoring these aspects of your child's growth is essential to ensure their well-being.

That is why AltaMed is here. We are your community health care provider, and we know what your baby, toddler, adolescent, tween, and teen need when it comes to key health services.

Birth to two years

Your child will undergo rapid physical and cognitive development during the first two years of life. At birth, babies can typically move their arms and legs and turn their heads toward sounds and light. However, they are entirely dependent on their caregivers for all their needs.

By six months, babies start to sit up, roll over, and crawl. They can also understand simple commands and respond to their name. By 12 months, they can stand on their own and begin to take their first steps. They also start to develop their language skills, saying simple words such as "mama" and "dada."

Health Needs: Children at this age should receive several vaccines to protect them against preventable diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that infants receive vaccines for hepatitis B, rotavirus, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), pneumococcal disease, and polio. Your pediatrician will also conduct regular checkups and developmental screenings to monitor your child's progress.

Two to five years

Your child's physical development will continue to progress rapidly, and their language and social skills will also develop at an increasing rate. They will become more independent and start to form strong bonds with family members and friends.

By age two, most children can run, climb stairs, and jump with both feet. They can also speak in simple sentences and understand basic concepts such as "more" and "mine." By age three, they can ride a tricycle, dress themselves, and use the toilet independently. They also start to play with other children and engage in imaginative play.

Health Needs: Your child will continue to receive vaccines, including those for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), chickenpox, and the flu. Your pediatrician will also conduct regular checkups and developmental screenings to monitor your child's progress.

Six to 12 years

Children continue to develop their cognitive and social skills, and their physical abilities will become more refined. They will start to form strong opinions and interests and develop a sense of their own identity.

By age six, most children can ride a bike, are able to learn to swim, and participate in organized sports. They can also read and write and understand basic math concepts. By 10, they can engage in complex social interactions, have a deeper understanding of abstract concepts, and develop critical thinking skills.

Health Needs: Your child will receive vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap), human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal disease, and the flu. Your pediatrician will also conduct regular checkups and developmental screenings to monitor your child's progress.

13 to 18 years

During this period, your child will undergo significant physical, cognitive, and emotional changes. They will become more independent and start to plan for their future.

By 14, most teenagers can engage in complex reasoning and have developed a sense of their own identity. They may also experience significant emotional changes, such as mood swings and increased stress. The part of their brain that allows them to make reasonable decisions has not formed yet, which explains a lot of why they do what they do. By 18, they are legally considered adults and are responsible for their own decisions.

It is important to continue monitoring their development during this period to ensure they remain healthy and receive necessary care. They should continue having regular checkups and developmental screenings with their pediatrician. These screenings can help identify any developmental delays or health concerns that may require further attention.

Health Needs: Necessary vaccines may include the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, meningococcal disease vaccine, and the flu vaccine.

As teenagers start to become more independent and make their own decisions, it is essential to encourage open communication and discuss the importance of preventive health care measures such as regular check-ups and vaccinations — like regular flu and COVID-19 shots. By doing so, you can help ensure that your child receives the necessary care to support their continued health and well-being.

With You from the Start

AltaMed provides a complete host of pediatric services, including age-appropriate immunizations and screenings. For information or to make an appointment call (888) 499-9303.

Measles Cases Are Rising