Can Exxon Mobil Protect Mozambique From Climate Change?

Can Exxon Mobil Protect Mozambique From Climate Change?

The money could make the country more resilient — if it doesn’t just end up causing more conflict and corruption.

By Leigh Elston

Ms. Elston writes about the energy industry in sub-Saharan Africa.

Image
A family stranded after Cyclone Idai in the Buzi District of Mozambique last Thursday.CreditCreditSiphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

MAPUTO, Mozambique — On Tuesday evening, five days after Cyclone Idai hit central Mozambique and the rains started, thousands of survivors were still stranded, waiting to be rescued from trees or the roofs of houses.

On that same evening, far from the floods, I was in an air-conditioned office here in the capital with a group of bankers and oil industry executives, hearing about how rich and happy Mozambicans would soon be. Standard Bank was presenting a new report on the billions of dollars it predicted the Mozambique government will earn from the giant natural gas projects the American oil companies Exxon Mobil and Anadarko plan to start building in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado this year.

We observed a minute of silence for the victims of the flood. What was not observed was the possibility that climate change, driven by the oil and gas industry, had any responsibility for the natural disaster.

If the Standard Bank report is right, Mozambique will earn $80 billion to $100 billion over the next 30 years from Exxon’s project alone. Anadarko’s project is estimated to deliver $67 billion. Those are huge sums in a country whose gross domestic product is estimated to be around $14 billion.

With that kind of money, the government could hire around 850 doctors and 17,600 teachers, build 3,200 low-cost homes and provide 4,000 hospital beds, per year the bank estimates.

It could rebuild Beira, Mozambique’s fourth-largest city, 90 percent of which is estimated to have been damaged or destroyed by Cyclone Idai, and the town of Buzi, home to 200,000 inhabitants, which is totally submerged.

It could also fund a proper climate risk management and resilience program, which would be able to provide better warning of disasters, giving people time to evacuate, and improve rescue and relief efforts. It could finance the building of houses, schools, hospitals and roads better able to withstand storms and flooding.

This should be a priority. Mozambique ranks third in Africa as the most exposed to weather-related hazards, including cyclones, droughts and floods — the number and intensity of which are likely to increase.

Historically, Mozambique has contributed less to climate change than almost any country on the planet. The gas plants could be argued to have a net emissions benefit, as much of the gas will be liquefied and shipped to China to replace dirtier coal-fired power.

“But being better than coal is a low bar and is not enough for a stable climate,” said Jonathan Gaventa, a senior associate at the sustainable development think tank E3G, who recently moved to Maputo. “Both coal and gas power generation are also beginning to be challenged by low-cost renewable resources.”

That doesn’t change the fact that Mozambique needs the money. But will it really improve the lives of ordinary people?

I saw one attendee leave the presentation early. “I had this awkward feeling — with thousands of deaths and the emergency, and I am here discussing who gets the biggest piece of the cake,” he told me later.

Weak state institutions and low government accountability make Mozambique vulnerable to the “resource curse” — when a dependence on natural-resource revenues leads to higher rates of conflict and corruption and a decline in democracy and economic growth.

The conflict has already begun. Since October 2017, Islamist insurgents have been attacking villages, burning houses and decapitating residents in Cabo Delgado. Little is understood about the cause of this violence, but rising poverty and inequality are thought to be at its root. The gas projects will further disrupt the area’s economic balance.

The government has cracked down with mass arrests. Human Rights Watch has reported that the “security forces have allegedly arbitrarily detained, ill-treated and summarily executed dozens of people they suspected of belonging” to the insurgency.

Since Cyclone Idai hit, the insurgency has dropped from the headlines, aided by the fact that the governor of Cabo Delgado has reportedly ordered journalists to stop covering the conflict. At least two journalists have been detained for doing so.

Corruption is also worsening. In 2016 it was revealed that the government had secretly taken out $2 billion in debt, backed with illegal state guarantees, assuming that the money could be repaid with revenue from the gas projects before anyone noticed.

According to a United States Federal District Court indictment of three former Mozambican government officials and others, at least $200 million of this money was spent on kickbacks and bribes. Some of the rest was used to buy military patrol boats, at a vastly inflated price, which were supposed to protect Mozambique’s seas and rivers. Not one of these boats has been deployed for the cyclone relief effort.

All this, perhaps, gives a better indication of what the gas revenues may be spent on, rather than schools or climate resilience. Some employees at the oil companies have even whispered that perhaps it would be better to leave the gas in the ground.

But that won’t happen. Presidential elections will be held later this year. Frelimo, the party that has won every election since independence in 1975, will win again. The gas projects will move forward. Revenues will be used to tighten the party’s grip on power. Corruption and inequality will increase. And long after the flooding from Cyclone Idai has receded, the poorest Mozambicans will still be left stranded.

Leigh Elston is a journalist covering the energy industry in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Read More

Jet Airways: The riches to rags story of India’s first private airline

Jet Airways: The riches to rags story of India’s first private airline

A Jet Airways flight

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

For many, Jet Airways redefined the Indian flying experience

For a long period of time, especially during the late 1990s and 2000s, Jet Airways was the shining face of Indian aviation. But now it finds itself on the verge of collapse. What went wrong? The BBC’s India business correspondent Sameer Hashmi explains.

Jet Airways won itself many loyal customers when it started operations because it redefined the Indian flying experience. It set itself apart in a market dominated by the national carrier, Air India, by offering world class service.

Over the last decade it grew steadily – becoming India’s largest international carrier. But the airline, which celebrated its silver jubilee just last year, is now fighting for its survival.

In recent weeks it has cancelled thousands of flights, affecting passengers flying on both international and domestic routes.

It has grounded more than two-thirds of the 119 aircraft it had in its fleet because it is no longer able to pay leasing companies. The company has amassed a debt of more than than $1bn (£750m) and has failed to pay salaries and loans.

Rescue efforts

But for now at least, all is not lost.

In a rare move the Indian government is desperately trying to save Jet, despite the fact that it is a private airline. So it is asking state-run banks to step in with a bailout plan.

With elections scheduled to start next month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to stop the airline – which employs 23,000 people – from collapsing.

The “rescue mission” is headed by the State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest public sector bank. Its head, Rajnish Kumar, on Thursday said that lenders are close to working out a resolution plan.

But not everyone is convinced it can be saved.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The airline has cancelled thousands of flights in recent weeks

Air India’s former executive director, Jitender Bhargava, says it will be very difficult for banks to find investors – given the current financial mess the airline is in.

“Who will be ready to put in money when profitability is not on the horizon? You cannot put in money to sink it.”

SBI has already held talks with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, which owns a 24% stake in Jet. The lenders want Etihad Airways to invest more money in the airline but the latter is reported to have declined the offer and instead wants to sell its entire stake and exit the business.

But aviation expert Mahantesh Sabarad thinks that Jet Airways is still a strategically good investment for Etihad. By increasing its stake, he believes, the gulf carrier will get a bigger foothold in an aviation market that is forecast to become the third largest by 2024 behind the United States and China.

“If immediate cash is injected and the aircraft that are grounded start flying again, then the airline can be rescued. In the current scenario, Etihad is the best bet for Jet Airways,” he said.

The Goyal problem

But the major factor that has held back potential investors, including Etihad Airways, is the founder and chairman of the airline.

Naresh Goyal has been reluctant to give up control of the company.

According to multiple reports, Etihad Airways initially agreed to invest more money and raise its equity stake in the airline. But the deal collapsed after Mr Goyal refused to step down as the chairman of the airline. He and his family own a 52% stake in Jet Airways. Indian aviation rules allow foreign airlines to own a stake of up to 49% in Indian carriers.

“Mr Goyal has always wanted to keep control of the airline at any cost. Even in the past when the airline was going through tough times, he turned down deals to protect his position,” says a former senior executive of Jet Airways who didn’t want to be named.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Founder and chairman Naresh Goyal has been reluctant to give up control of the company

Many news reports say lenders have asked Mr Goyal and his wife to step down from the board.

“Mr Goyal stepping down will open up a lot of options for the airline. Any investor that is willing to invest would want full control and to run it professionally,” says Mr Bhargava.

An email sent to Jet Airways regarding Mr Goyal’s future did not elicit any response.

Turbulence from low cost carriers

Jet Airways was born in 1993, two years after India liberalised its economy and opened its doors to private investments.

The company was one of five private airlines to set up soon after. The others did not survive but Jet Airways kept cruising to new heights. It kept increasing its market share, eating into the monopoly enjoyed by national carrier Air India.

In fact, the rise of Jet coincided with the decline of Air India, which was plagued by poor service and bad business decisions taken by its political masters.

Its troubles however, began with the entry of low-cost carriers like IndiGo and SpiceJet in the mid-2000s.

The new airlines began offering tickets at a much lower prices. IndiGo also kept its operational costs low by offering basic services and no food on flights. To compete with them, Jet also started lowering its fares, despite continuing to be a full service airline.

“The biggest challenge for Jet Airways was that its operational cost was much higher compared to low-cost carriers, which is what prevented it from making profits,” says Mr Bhargava.

Apart from stiff competition, volatile crude oil prices and a depreciating rupee also exacerbated its financial problems. Since 2008, the airline kept incurring huge losses , forcing it to keep borrowing from banks.

Meanwhile, IndiGo kept eating into Jet Airways market share.

Things turned from bad to worse in 2018. Crude oil prices shot up significantly, touching $80 and simultaneously, the Indian currency lost nearly 20% of its value against the dollar. Both factors play a critical role in the airline business.

“These two factors really dented the airlines’ cash flow, and it couldn’t recover from there,” says Mr Sabarad.

Borrowed time

Jet Airways used to operate on 600 domestic and 380 international routes.

But since the crisis began, it has cut down hundreds of flights including to international destinations like Abu Dhabi, Manchester and Hong Kong.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The airline has cut off many domestic and international routes which will affect thousands

It has also curtailed its operations within the country by stopping flights from the capital Delhi to major Indian cities like Bangalore, Chennai (formerly known as Madras) and Hyderabad.

According to some media reports, the government has nudged low cost carriers like SpiceJet to consider taking over some of the aircraft grounded by Jet Airways.

To make matters worse, the airline’s pilots union has said they have decided to stop flying from 1 April if Jet Airways does not have a rescue plan in place by then.

“It is not about the salary right now, it is about getting clarity about our future. We have bills to pay, and many of us are sole breadwinners in the family,” Asim Valiani, vice president of the union, told the BBC.

Airfares have soared with passengers sometimes having to pay four to five times the cost of a regular ticket.

It is still unclear what the outcome of the Jet Airways fiasco will be. But for now, airline staff and customers are bearing the brunt.

Read More

6 things that cost more in the US than they do abroad

6 things that cost more in the US than they do abroad

usa flag fan american
Americans are paying more than people from other countries for some key services.
Ian Walton/Getty Images

  • Americans pay a less than consumers in many countries for myriad products, but they pay much more than their international counterparts for certain services.
  • Education and healthcare are the two areas where citizens of the United States pay significantly more than people from almost any other nation.
  • In many nations, government subsidies dramatically drive down consumer costs, leaving more money in the hands of the citizens.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

In many ways, the average American consumer has things pretty good.

Gasoline costs half as much in the US as it does in most of Europe, and we pay less than most of our European counterparts when it comes to rent and real estate, too. American food prices are relatively low, utilities are comparatively cheap, and clothing is affordable.

But in other areas, Americans are shelling out significantly more cash than citizens of other nations. From internet access fees to drug prices, the US consumer is often forced to pay higher prices than found internationally, and for commodities that can’t easily be skipped.

Here are six things you are paying more for in America than you would if you lived abroad.

American healthcare costs are double those of most other countries


David McNew/Getty Images

There’s a good reason so many politicians talk about the trouble with America’s healthcare system: It’s a mess. And a costly one, at that. Healthcare spending in the United States is approximately double that of nations with comparable collective incomes.

Yet for all America’s spending, it’s hardly healthier. About 18% of American gross domestic product goes to healthcare spending, while an average of just under 11% of GDP is spent on healthcare in other developed countries.

Internet access costs more in America than in 113 other countries


Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

According to a study conducted by Fastmetrics, America ranks 114th when it comes to internet pricing per customer. Americans pay an average of $66.20 each month for the privilege of connecting to the World Wide Web, while most of Europe, South America, and Asia pays less than $50 monthly.

In Russia and much of Eastern Europe, web access costs less than $20 a month. Although in two nations, Papua New Guinea and Burkina Faso, people can pay more than $500 a month to get online.

College costs more in the US than it does in all but one other nation


Drew Angerer/Getty Images

You already know the costs of higher education are absurd in the US — today, Americans spend an average of $30,000 per college student per year. But when you compare our costs to those of other nations, the absurdity only grows clearer.

Read more: The 34 colleges that produced the most US presidents

The US outspends almost every other nation on the planet, and the costs have only increased in recent years. Only Luxembourg outspends the United States on a per-college-student basis. But that money is spent by the government, not the pupil: Education there is free.

The US spends a ridiculous amount of money on its prison population


Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

America spends an average of $74 billion each year on the penitentiary system. That’s more than the entire gross domestic product of 133 countries. In most states, a single prisoner costs about $31,000 per year.

In New York, the state pays more than $60,000 annually to keep someone locked up. The rise of private prisons run by for profit companies has only made things worse.

Pharmaceuticals are often three times more expensive in America than abroad


Reuters

Healthcare costs generally are much higher in the US than in most other countries. But when it comes to medicine specifically, Americans are also paying much more than their international peers.

According to Reuters, Americans pay three times more for the world’s 20 top-selling medicines, drugs that account for 15% of total pharmaceutical sales.

And Americans spend more than almost any other nation on childcare


White House

The average American household with two parents and young children spends about 25% of its annual income on childcare. In actual dollar terms, the annual average is about $9,590.

According to data collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in most developed nations, the average family spends just 15% of its annual income on childcare, largely thanks to government subsidies.

More:

Features
BI-freelancer
Travel
United States of America

Read More

Tomography Through An Infinite Grid Of Resistors

Tomography Through An Infinite Grid Of Resistors

One of the vast untapped potentials of medicine is the access to imaging equipment. A billion people have difficulty getting access to an x-ray, and that says nothing about access to MRIs or CAT scans. Over the past few years, [Jean Rintoul] has been working on a low-cost way to image the inside of a human body using nothing more than a few electrodes. It can be done cheaply and easily, and it’s one of the most innovative ways of bringing medical imaging to the masses. Now, this is a crowdfunding project, aiming to provide safe, accessible medical imaging to everyone.

It’s called Spectra, and uses electrical impedance tomography to image the inside of a chest cavity, the dielectric spectrum of a bone, or the interior of a strawberry. Spectra does this by wrapping an electrode around a part of the body and sending out small AC currents. These small currents are reconstructed using tomographic techniques, imaging a cross-section of a body.

[Jean] gave a talk about Spectra at last year’s Hackaday Superconference, and if you want to look at the forefront of affordable medical technology, you needn’t look any further. Simply by sending an AC wave of around 10kHz through a body, software can reconstruct the internals. Everything from lung volume to muscle and fat mass to cancers can be detected with this equipment. You still need a tech or MD to interpret the data, but this is a great way to bring medical imaging technology to the people who need it.

Right now, the Spectra is up on Crowd Supply, with a board that can be configured to use 32 electrodes. Measurements are taken at 160,000 samples/sec, and these samples have 16-bit resolution. This is just the acquisition hardware, though, but the software to do tomographic reconstruction is open source and also readily available.

In terms of bringing medical imaging to the masses, this is a very impressive piece of work, and is probably the project from last year’s Hackaday Prize that has the best chance of changing the world.

Read More

Kindle for Kids bundles offer parents peace of mind at a new low price

Kindle for Kids bundles offer parents peace of mind at a new low price

Starting your kid off as an early reader can do wonders for them later in life, but these days it’s even harder to get kids to choose a book when they’d rather be on one of their devices, whether that be a smartphone, a video game console, or a computer. With the Kindle for Kids Bundle, you can fool the system with a device that’s made solely for reading, and today Amazon is offering various versions of the bundle for just $59.99. At $40 off its regular cost, this is the lowest the bundle has ever reached before. They each come with a two-year “No Questions Asked” warranty too, so if anything happens to the device within that span of time, you can get a replacement free of charge.

E-reading Is Magic


Kindle for Kids Bundle

Featuring the 8th generation Kindle E-reader, a case in the color of your choice, and a two-year “no questions asked” warranty, this could be just the thing to get your child to pick up a book (digitally) more often.

$59.99 $99.99 $40 off

Featuring the 8th generation Kindle E-reader from 2016, this device shows no sponsored screensavers like some other Amazon devices. A cover for the device is included in each bundle, giving you a potential way to differentiate between two or more Kindles in your home as Amazon offers five different cover colors and three more with detailed illustrations. Considering the device normally sold for $80 without the warranty and cover when it was available at Amazon, today’s offer makes for a pretty great deal. The latest Kindle devices start at $89.99.

The Kindle was designed for reading, which means it’s also designed with zero distractions. Tools like Word Wise and Vocabulary Builder can help your kids learn the definition of new words and keep track of them over time. With an Amazon Prime membership, you’ll have unlimited access to over a thousand titles to read at no additional charge.

You can bulk up the number of titles your child can read with a subscription to FreeTime Unlimited. Starting as low as $2.99 monthly, this service allows you to set reading goals for your child while giving them a bevy of age-appropriate content to access at any time, from ebooks to movies, games, and more. Of course, they would have to access most of that other content on another device like an Amazon Fire tablet as the Kindle is made just for reading.

If you want to add a great series onto the device before giving it to your child, how about the Harry Potter: Complete Collection for $56.64?

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Read More

Bring home a refurb TCL 4K UHD Smart Roku TV with HDR for as low as $200

Bring home a refurb TCL 4K UHD Smart Roku TV with HDR for as low as $200

Various models of the TCL 4-Series 4K UHD Smart Roku TV with HDR are now on sale at Amazon in Certified Refurbished condition with prices starting as low as $199.99.

The refurbished label might be a bit worrying at first, but it just means that these TVs have been inspected and brought back to Like New condition. They’re even backed by a 90-day warranty in case you experience any issues during that time.

Watch This!


TCL 4-Series 4K UHD Smart Roku TV with HDR

These 4K UHD TVs offer smart functionality with Roku’s streaming features built right in, so you won’t need anything extra to binge Netflix or Hulu.

Starting at $199.99

TCL’s largest TV on sale today is this 55-inch model that’s down to $344.99. These smart TVs are already designed to be priced affordably, so getting to save extra is truly a bonus. If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, the 50-inch model is now $269.99, saving you $40 off what it’d cost regularly.

Other options on sale today include the 49-inch 4K Roku TV for $274.99 and a 43-inch version for only $199.99. Each of the models in this sale features smart functionality which allows you to download apps and services like Netflix and Hulu directly to the TV without needing an additional streaming device like the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Read More

Born In The 1960s? The CDC Says You May Need A Measles Shot Before Traveling – Forbes

Born In The 1960s? The CDC Says You May Need A Measles Shot Before Traveling – Forbes

Many American adults are unsure which, if any, measles vaccination they received.

Getty

Some adults who received the measles vaccine between 1963 and 1967 may not be protected from the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s because when the measles vaccine first became available, in 1963, there were two versions and only one was effective.

The first version of the early vaccine was inactivated, also known as “killed” measles vaccine. The other version was live attenuated measles vaccine, which was a weakened form of the virus. The killed vaccine was discontinued in 1967 when it was determined that it did not, in fact, protect against measles virus infection.

In 1968, a new version of the live measles vaccine hit the market and is still in use today. Since 1971, the measles vaccine has been combined with the mumps and rubella vaccines in the three-in-one MMR vaccine.

If you were vaccinated between 1963 and 1967 but you’re unsure of which version you received, you should try to check your vaccination records. Unfortunately, there is no national organization that maintains vaccination records and they can be hard to track down.

If you do not have written documentation, or if you have not had a blood test to prove that you’re immune, the CDC recommends biting the bullet and getting another dose or two. “The MMR vaccine is safe, and there is no harm in getting another dose if you may already be immune to measles, mumps, or rubella,” the agency says on its website.

A heightened risk for travelers

Measles is highly contagious. Early symptoms typically include high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Two or three days after infection, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth. Three to five days after infection, a red rash breaks out. In a small percentage of cases, complications from measles can lead to more serious conditions such as diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis or even death.

This year is on track to be the worst year for measles outbreaks in 27 years, according to CDC data. From January 1 to April 11, there were 555 individual confirmed cases of measles in 20 states.

Elsewhere in the world, there are currently measles outbreaks in Brazil, Israel, Japan, Ukraine and the Philippines.

There have been several recent cases of travelers contracting and spreading measles, including:

The CDC says international travelers are at high risk for exposure and transmission of the virus and recommends the following:

  • Infants 6 months through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine. Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose at least 28 days later).
  • Children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.
  • Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.

If you get sick abroad, travel insurance can provide coverage if you contract measles and are forced to miss or interrupt a trip, says Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.com. “Likewise, if an existing policyholder gets sick while traveling, travel medical coverage can help pay for medical expenses.”

Risk assessment: When were you born?

Born before the 1957? You probably were not vaccinated against measles but you’re safe anyway. “Before vaccines were available, nearly everyone was infected with measles, mumps, and rubella viruses during childhood,” according to the CDC website.

For two decades after 1968, most people vaccinated against measles received only one dose. The CDC’s Measles FAQ page says one dose of measles vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus. Two doses are about 97 percent effective.

It wasn’t until 1989 that health officials started recommending two doses of the live vaccine. There was a catch-up program in 1989, so some grade-school students received a second shot at that time, but guidelines varied by state.

The upshot: If you’re unsure which measles vaccine — or how many doses — you received, it’s better to be safe than sorry and roll up your sleeve.

 

“>

Many American adults are unsure which, if any, measles vaccination they received.

Getty

Some adults who received the measles vaccine between 1963 and 1967 may not be protected from the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s because when the measles vaccine first became available, in 1963, there were two versions and only one was effective.

The first version of the early vaccine was inactivated, also known as “killed” measles vaccine. The other version was live attenuated measles vaccine, which was a weakened form of the virus. The killed vaccine was discontinued in 1967 when it was determined that it did not, in fact, protect against measles virus infection.

In 1968, a new version of the live measles vaccine hit the market and is still in use today. Since 1971, the measles vaccine has been combined with the mumps and rubella vaccines in the three-in-one MMR vaccine.

If you were vaccinated between 1963 and 1967 but you’re unsure of which version you received, you should try to check your vaccination records. Unfortunately, there is no national organization that maintains vaccination records and they can be hard to track down.

If you do not have written documentation, or if you have not had a blood test to prove that you’re immune, the CDC recommends biting the bullet and getting another dose or two. “The MMR vaccine is safe, and there is no harm in getting another dose if you may already be immune to measles, mumps, or rubella,” the agency says on its website.

A heightened risk for travelers

Measles is highly contagious. Early symptoms typically include high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Two or three days after infection, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth. Three to five days after infection, a red rash breaks out. In a small percentage of cases, complications from measles can lead to more serious conditions such as diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis or even death.

This year is on track to be the worst year for measles outbreaks in 27 years, according to CDC data. From January 1 to April 11, there were 555 individual confirmed cases of measles in 20 states.

Elsewhere in the world, there are currently measles outbreaks in Brazil, Israel, Japan, Ukraine and the Philippines.

There have been several recent cases of travelers contracting and spreading measles, including:

The CDC says international travelers are at high risk for exposure and transmission of the virus and recommends the following:

  • Infants 6 months through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine. Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose at least 28 days later).
  • Children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.
  • Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.

If you get sick abroad, travel insurance can provide coverage if you contract measles and are forced to miss or interrupt a trip, says Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.com. “Likewise, if an existing policyholder gets sick while traveling, travel medical coverage can help pay for medical expenses.”

Risk assessment: When were you born?

Born before the 1957? You probably were not vaccinated against measles but you’re safe anyway. “Before vaccines were available, nearly everyone was infected with measles, mumps, and rubella viruses during childhood,” according to the CDC website.

For two decades after 1968, most people vaccinated against measles received only one dose. The CDC’s Measles FAQ page says one dose of measles vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus. Two doses are about 97 percent effective.

It wasn’t until 1989 that health officials started recommending two doses of the live vaccine. There was a catch-up program in 1989, so some grade-school students received a second shot at that time, but guidelines varied by state.

The upshot: If you’re unsure which measles vaccine — or how many doses — you received, it’s better to be safe than sorry and roll up your sleeve.

Read More