Free Measles Vaccinations Available to CareFirst Members During Outbreak

Posted on 2019-04-29
Updated on 2019-04-30 12:05:24

The disease has reached its highest point in the U.S. since 1994

Baltimore, Md. — As the number of measles cases in the U.S. reaches its highest mark in 25 years, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) is reminding its members that the region’s largest health insurer continues to cover the measles vaccination and any additional special immunizations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Members with coverage within CareFirst’s Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., service area may get a measles vaccine at no cost from their in-network primary care provider.

Measles is a highly contagious disease transmitted by direct contact with the virus droplets or spread from coughing, sneezing or breathing. So far this year in the U.S., more than 700 cases have been reported in 22 states, the CDC said April 29. That’s the highest number of cases since 963 cases were reported in 1994. Measles was considered eradicated in the U.S. in 2000.

Four measles cases have been reported in Maryland this year, compared with one case reported in each of the past two years. No cases have been reported this year in Virginia or Washington, D.C.

“CareFirst is dedicated to ensuring each of its members has access to quality, affordable health care and has always promoted vaccines as well as preventative services,” said Dr. Daniel Winn, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of CareFirst. “By providing members with free access to the measles vaccination, they are better equipped to protect themselves and their families against this dangerous disease at such a critical time. Members should exercise responsibility to themselves, their families and the community at large by following vaccine recommendations.”

The CDC attributes measles outbreaks to communities where groups of people are not vaccinated and to an increase in the number of travelers who get measles abroad and bring it to the U.S.

People at the highest risk for measles are:

  • All unvaccinated persons;
  • Infants and children under 5 years old;
  • Adults over 20 years old, especially those in college living situations or the military;
  • Pregnant women; and,
  • People with compromised immune systems such as, leukemia or HIV.

Some patients should not receive the measles vaccine, including but not limited to pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems and those who have already received full immunization and have immunity to the virus. It is uncommon for a fully vaccinated adult to need a booster, but all CareFirst members should consult their primary care physician before receiving the measles vaccine, Winn said.

Additionally, there are special instructions for vaccination of health care workers, international travelers, those who live in an area with known infections, and those exposed to patients with measles. As doctors might consider administering the vaccination to children before the due date for special situations, like visiting or living in an area where there was an outbreak, parents should speak with their physician.

For more information on measles, visit https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/faqs.html.

About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

In its 82nd year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health care company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.2 million individuals and groups in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2018, CareFirst invested $38 million to improve overall health, and increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of health care throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at www.carefirst.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.