Around Campus

Message from Carolina on measles and the MMR vaccine

While no measles cases have been reported in North Carolina yet, it is important to be aware of the highly contagious virus. Everyone should know their immunization history and make sure they have received two doses of the vaccine or have had a positive titer consistent with immunity.

A doctor holds a stethoscope.

Dear Carolina Community,

As has been reported in the news, the U.S. is experiencing the largest outbreak of measles since 1994. While no measles cases have been reported in North Carolina yet, it is important to be aware.

The measles virus is highly contagious and spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. The virus can remain in a room for a few hours after an infected person has left. Infection starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat, followed by a rash that spreads over the body. People with measles are contagious from four days prior to rash onset (with the rash onset considered day zero) through four days after rash onset.

Measles can cause serious health complications. About one in four people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized. In rare instances, measles can result in pneumonia, brain swelling and death.

Measles outbreaks in the U.S. are largely related to unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people. Those not vaccinated are at high risk of contracting the virus; approximately nine out of 10 unvaccinated individuals will contract measles if exposed.

We want to make sure our community is well protected against measles. Getting the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine provides the best protection against measles. The vaccine is safe and highly effective. Two doses of measles vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles, and one dose is 93% effective. You can find more information here on the measles vaccine.

Everyone should know their immunization history and make sure they have received two doses of the vaccine or have had a positive titer consistent with immunity.

Students are required as a condition of enrollment to meet the State of North Carolina’s immunization requirements regarding the MMR vaccine. If you have questions, please call 919-966-2281 to schedule your immunization or blood test at Campus Health, or schedule online at campushealthappointments.unc.edu/.

Health-care staff and faculty in the University’s immunization program, ehs.unc.edu/ueohc/requirements/, can verify their status at the Office of Environment, Health and Safety compliance portal, ehs.cloudapps.unc.edu/EHS/. If you have questions, please contact the University Employee Occupational Health Clinic, ehs.unc.edu/ueohc/.

Staff and faculty who are not in the University’s immunization program, should verify their immunization history and contact their personal physician with questions.

Additional information is available at the following links:

Measles cases and outbreaks in the U.S.: 
cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html

Increase in measles cases: 
cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6817e1.htm?s_cid=mm6817e1_w

Provider resources for vaccine conversations: 
cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/index.html

Thank you for your attention and interest in this important personal health issue.

Sincerely,

Ken Pittman, Executive Director
Campus Health

Mary Beth Koza
Executive Director
Environment, Health and Safety/Risk Management