Alaska issues new vaccine guidelines for mumps prevention

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - In an effort to slow down the outbreak of mumps, Alaska public health officials changed that state's vaccine guidelines for the second time.

All Alaska residents are now eligible to receive a third dose of the MMR vaccine – if it has been at least five years since their second one. The vaccine provides protection against measles, mumps and rubella and is typically given to children in two doses.

“Because we are beginning to see cases identified in communities outside of Anchorage, it is becoming even more difficult to determine who is at increased risk for acquiring mumps and thus who should receive a third dose of MMR vaccine,” the state said in a public health advisory issued Wednesday.

Since May of 2017, 214 confirmed and 33 probable cases have been reported to the Alaska Section of Epidemiology, and there is no sign of the outbreak slowing down.

Mumps is an extremely contagious disease caused by a virus that passes from one person to another through coughing, saliva and personal contact.

The most common symptoms include:

Muscle aches
Loss of appetite
Puffy cheeks and swollen jaw

Doctors say if you think you have mumps, call your healthcare provider first.

“We don’t recommend that people go in to see a healthcare provider right away without calling ahead of time – because mumps is so contagious that if you go into the waiting room, you can contaminate the waiting room and expose other people to the mumps virus while you’re in the waiting room,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, an epidemiologist with the State of Alaska.

The mumps component of the MMR vaccine is 88% effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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