Vaccinations Against Measles May Have Other Benefits

A new study suggests the measles vaccination may also help your body fight off other illnesses for years.

Contracting measles weakens the immune system for weeks or months, putting people, especially children, at increased risk for potentially fatal infection by a host of germs.


Scientists say vulnerable period goes on much longer than thought, up to 3 years. Benefit of avoiding measles with vaccination also extends longer. Researchers also found that measles vaccination campaigns were followed by a decrease in deaths for other infectious diseases.

Experts said this is a wake-up call to parents who don't vaccinate their children out of fears about a link between vaccines and autism. Debate about the measles vaccine came after large outbreak in Disneyland which sickened 147 people in the US (131 in California). Also spread to Mexico and Canada.

Many stricken with measles were not immunized because of personal reasons or their age.

The Study:

Analyzed measles cases and death rates from other infections before and after widespread measles vaccination campaigns in the U.S., England, Wales, and Denmark.

  • After vaccinations, measles cases declined in all the countries.
  • Deaths from non-measles infections also dropped.
  • In the U.S., deaths from infections such as respiratory or diarrheal disease fell from 18 per 100,000 before vaccination to 6 per 100,000 after vaccination.
  • Researchers attribute the drop to fewer measles cases caused by the introduction of the vaccine.
  • The team found it took 2 to 3 years after getting measles for the immune system to rebuild.

Samadi's Take

This finding should give parents more motivation to vaccinate their kids. Will provide additional evidence of the public health benefits of measles vaccine – not that it’s needed. However, it’s an important message in the US right now and in countries continuing to see measles outbreaks. Measles has been eliminated in the U.S. for more than a decade thanks to an aggressive vaccination effort. Outbreaks still show up when Americans or foreign visitors become infected overseas and spread the virus among populations that are not vaccinated. If the world can eliminate measles, it will help protect kids from many other infections too