With several recent measles outbreaks in New Jersey and other parts of the country, there’s been a lot of talk about the importance of vaccinating children to prevent the disease from spreading.

But what about adults?

Dr. Tina Tan, the New Jersey state epidemiologist, said most adults born before 1957 are considered to be at low risk for getting the disease and usually don’t have to worry.

“It’s likely that you might have been exposed to measles because there were many outbreaks of measles at the at time," she said.

If you don’t remember if you had measles as a kid, ideally you should try to find your childhood vaccination records or some other documentation of measles immunity, like school records. Your health care provider can do a blood test to find out. Another option is simply to get vaccinated.

“It’s not harmful to get that extra dose of measles vaccine if you aren’t able to have proof of immunity," she said.

So what’s the big deal about measles?

According to Dr. Tan, measles can be very serious and younger children and adults “are more likely to have complications of measles, and some of those complications can lead to hospitalizations, and sometimes even death.”

Complications include pneumonia, encephalitis and premature birth, low-weight babies and miscarriages for pregnant women.

If you got a measles vaccination between the late 1950s and the late 1960s, you may need a second shot because the vaccination being offered then was found to not be very effective.

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