The recent measles outbreak, beginning in Disneyland, California, can be (and has been) blamed on unvaccinated people and children somehow infecting everyone else. This concept is somewhat flawed and requires a closer examination of the facts.
A crucially important fact to know is that with measles, the efficacy is not as high with the first dose as it is with two doses. The MMR (which includes the measles vaccine) has been administerd for many years, however, the second dose of the measles vaccine was not on the recommended schedule until 1985. Therefore, all adults who are approximately 31 years old or older have only been vaccinated for measles once. They did not receive the booster. This leaves that entire population of adults under-vaccinated and at risk for getting measles and spreading measles.
This year, the adults who are 31 and over might choose to travel to other countries where measles still exists. These countries include, but are not limited to, England, Mexico, Russia, Brasil, China, the Phillipines. England, Mexico, Brasil and China are currently popular travel destinations for many people in the United States. Those under-vaccinated adults can bring the measles back into the United States and to places, such as Disneyland. Not to mention the international tourists from those countries who visit Disneyland, as well.
The United States is not alone in the new battle with the measles. England is currently experiencing a measles epidemic. Many United States citizens travel to England and paradise-like beach destinations in Mexico. While on that vacation those 31 and older adults have just increased their chances of getting measles, despite the fact that they are vaccinated.
However, for some reason, there are many recent articles that blame the unvaccinated population soley as the cause for the current measles outbreak. The truth is that as long as under-vaccinated adults travel outside the US and then return home and people from other countries travel to the US, there is a chance of measles cases occurring.
Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” last Sunday, ” All of our cases result, ultimately, from individuals who have traveled and brought it back here.”
Regarding the length of time for immunity even if both doses of the vaccine were administered: According to the World Health Organization, if a child is vaccinated with the first and second dose of the measles vaccine, then it is supposed to last up to 11 years, which means by 16 years old, the immunity from the vaccines will have worn off. Thus, older children are not as protected as people think either. The World Health Organization has stated that adequate nutrition is key to preventing measles and complications.
Understanding vaccines, the measles virus and immunity, is extremely complicated. However, if nothing else, the information in this post hopefully opens minds to possiblities aside from the unvaccinated population as the sole cause for the current measles outbreak.