Sunday, 10 May 2015

Avoiding measles vaccination does not just put children at risk of measles

If you know anyone who is still undecided about, or opposed to, vaccination, please point them to the latest evidence in the journal Science: Measles vaccine protects against other deadly diseases.

The first paragraph sums it up nicely:

“Measles kills about 140,000 people worldwide every year, but the millions of kids who have survived the disease aren’t in the clear. A new epidemiological study suggests that they remain susceptible to other infections for more than 2 years, much longer than researchers anticipated. The results bolster a hypothesis that the measles virus undermines the immune system’s memory—and indicate that the measles vaccine protects against other deadly diseases as well.”

Basically, it seems that the measles virus kills of large number of immune memory cells - the ones that give you a faster, stronger immune response to repeated infections. This means that even if measles itself does not kill you, there is a good chance that it will have “reset” your immune system to something approaching a newborn, removing a whole suite of previously acquired immunity.

This helps to explain why child mortality rates drop much more than would be expected following the introduction of measles vaccination (e.g. this study): not only are deaths from measles and direct measles-associated infections reduced, deaths from other infections are reduced too.

Even if you don’t care about herd immunity and your obligation to the rest of society, get your children vaccinated.

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