Should You Vaccinate for Child for Measles, or Not Vaccinate?
A Response to two Twitter questions:
1. @PuglieseMD what are your thoughts on the measles outbreak?
2. @childrenshealth @PuglieseMD is there a Measles booster vaccine or are you good if you had it as a child?
The Measles Mumps and Rubella Vaccination
This measles outbreak that is occurring out West will intensify the argument about the pros and cons of childhood vaccinations. Public health officials will tell you that this is a perfect example of the use of childhood vaccines. Advocates for not vaccinating will tell you that vaccinations may contribute to autism, ADHD and many other illnesses and isn’t worth the risk to your child.
The concern with this reasoning is that we are seeing more genetic diversity in the human population than ever before. The reason for this increase in genetic diversity is due to a decrease in infant mortality allowing more children to live into adulthood than ever before. One of the leading causes for this decrease in infant mortality over the last half-century has been the use of childhood vaccines.
With more genetic diversity there are more children living today that may be susceptible to other illness. Having a larger population with greater genetic diversity is a double-edged sword because it allows for more people to have more atypical expressions of illnesses. The other problem with not vaccinating is that we look at childhood illnesses through the prism of today’s society not realizing that a half-century ago many of these illnesses had the potential to carry significant lifelong complications or death.
For many that choose not to vaccinate their children, they believe that as long as other parents vaccinate their children they’ll be free of being exposed because everyone else is immune therefore my child is safe until they’re exposed as the case of Disneyland. You raise an interesting point about if there is a need for a booster and that leads to the question of…
What does long term Measles Immunity Mean?
One of the people infected with measles was 70 years old and I find it hard to believe that the person had never been exposed to measles in the last sixty years. Since we’re living longer, is there potential that immunity for these childhood illnesses can fade as we get into the sixth and seventh decade of life? This, plus that fact that older people are traveling more, it is not surprising that this happened and that we’ll hear more of these stories as time goes on. One way to see if you are still protected against these childhood illnesses is to see if you still have protective antibodies to the illnesses. If you don’t then I don’t see why you can’t get revaccinated, especially, if you plan on foreign travel or you are in the healthcare profession.