Vaccination works

How the measles virus could be eradicated

Mor­tal­i­ty from measles dis­ease varies, depend­ing to med­ical care between 0.1% with very good and 25% with poor med­ical care. The World Health Orga­ni­za­tion has set the goal of erad­i­cat­ing measles world­wide by 2020. The only way to get there is a world­wide vac­ci­na­tion cov­er­age of 95% of the pop­u­la­tion.

A suc­cess­ful exam­ple in this regard are the USA: In 1963, a measles vac­cine was first autho­rized. In the fol­low­ing years, the num­ber of infec­tions dropped rapid­ly, as the fol­low­ing graph­ic illus­trates:

Source: Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion: Epi­demi­ol­o­gy and Pre­ven­tion of Vac­cine-Pre­ventable Dis­eases. 13th Edi­tion. Appen­dix E: Data and Sta­tis­tics: Report­ed Cas­es and Deaths from Vac­cine Pre­ventable Dis­eases, Unit­ed States, 1950–2016. March 2018.

In 2000 measles were offi­cial­ly declared erad­i­cat­ed in the US. Local measles out­breaks, how­ev­er, occur again and again, as the virus is brought in by trav­el­ers from oth­er parts of the world.

In Aus­tria, the measles vac­ci­na­tion has been pro­vid­ed since 1974 in the nation­al vac­ci­na­tion plan. But only since 1994 does the vac­ci­na­tion con­sist of two parts. Only from this, one can be regard­ed as immune. For this rea­son, cas­es of measles infec­tion occur with peo­ple who have already been vac­ci­nat­ed once.

Between 2007 and 2016, 32 mil­lion measles vac­cines were admin­is­tered world­wide. Dur­ing this time, 19 rec­og­nized vac­cine dam­ages were record­ed. The risk of dying from a measles dis­ease, even with very good med­ical care, is there­fore, with 0.1% con­sid­er­ably high­er than risk­ing pos­si­ble vac­cine dam­age with 0.0001%.

Why did we choose a graph­ic from the US for this Insights? In Aus­tria, measles dis­eases have only been report­ed since 2001. There­fore, there are no long-term domes­tic data series, whith which one could see the effect of the intro­duc­tion of the vac­cine in the 1970s as clear as in the data from the US.

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