The Measles Scare and Why You Should Be Tested Early

Thinking about trying for a baby? Wondering what you can do to be prepared during this pre-pregnancy phase? A great place to start is by making sure you are up-to-date on vaccines – particularly the MMR Vaccine. 

What’s an MMR Vaccine? It is a routine vaccination to protect against measles, mumps and rubella. Protection against these diseases is always important, but becomes particularly necessary while pregnant and while caring for a newborn. 

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), women of childbearing age should check with their doctor to make sure they are vaccinated before they get pregnant.  It is recommended that women should wait at least one month after receiving the vaccine (or booster) before trying to conceive. 

Why is it so important to check immunity before becoming pregnancy? Because once pregnant, it is no longer considered safe to receive the vaccination and the mother-to-be must wait until after giving birth to receive it. 

With Measles on the rise, now is the time to take action and protect yourself and your unborn baby! The CDC documented 1,077 individual cases in 28 states this year alone (January 1, 2019 – June 20, 2019). 

What if I’ve been vaccinated and am still not immune? Sounds a little crazy, right? Well, unfortunately there are a small group of people known as “non-responders” who despite being vaccinated, are still not immune. I can speak personally to this as I have been vaccinated three times, the most recent in November of 2017 prior to infertility treatments, and still lack immunity regardless of the necessary precautions taken. 

Does that mean that I am always susceptible to measles? Not necessarily. In the middle of my treatment when I moved from my Ob-Gyn’s care to a Fertility Specialist, I was tested again. This result came back showing immunity in August 2018. However, after becoming pregnant in March 2019 and being tested yet again, my results showed no immunity leading the doctors to believe that although I may have had immunity for a short time, I am better classified as a “non-responder”. 

This news has been particularly scary for me the past few months living in Brooklyn (one of the highest recorded areas of outbreaks) and I can’t help but feel discouraged that I wasn’t tested again before my FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) in March. Would I have wanted to delay the transfer for another month upon finding out I’m not immune to obtain another booster? Not necessarily, but I would have liked to have the ability to make an educated decision regarding it.  

So how will I know if I’m immune? A simple blood test at your family practitioner or Obstetrician’s office will ease your worries, should you have any, and let you know if that double (or single) dose from childhood has maintained or wore off. For an added peace of mind, ask your doctor to be tested before trying to conceive or undergoing fertility treatments. 

Where can I receive the MMR Vaccine? At your local family doctor, Ob-Gyn and at most urgent care facilities (walk-in clinics). 

If you’re reading this as a fellow non-responder, shoot me a line! I know it’s unsettling and am here to listen. You are not alone. 

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