New Jersey measles case prompts questions about MMR vaccine safety and effectiveness

Last week, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) reported a case of measles in a New Jersey resident who had recently traveled internationally. The NJDOH warned that people who were at the Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center Emergency Department on June 1 may have been exposed and encouraged all residents who will be traveling out of the country to get their measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. In response to these warnings, some social media users questioned the safety and effectiveness of MMR vaccines.

Recommendation: Trending conversations about the recent measles case in New Jersey provide an opportunity for health agencies, community-based organizations, and other partners in the state to push out messaging about the symptoms of measles, measles treatment options, what to do after a measles exposure, and the importance of the MMR vaccine. Prioritizing messaging to parents of young children is recommended. Key messages may explain that the MMR vaccine is our best tool for preventing the spread of measles and reducing the risk of severe illness and death. Additional messaging may emphasize that all vaccines are rigorously tested before becoming available to the public, and side effects from the MMR vaccine are extremely rare.