February 23, 2015

EDITORIAL: What’s the threat from measles?


IF YOU HAD MEASLES as a kid you may not remember having them. For most Baby Boomers born before the vaccine was introduced in 1963, measles made you sick and itchy, you stayed home from school until the spots went away and life went on.

Thousands of kids were hospitalized by complications associated with measles–respiratory illnesses and even encephalitis. Some died. Back then my parents wouldn't have told me about that. Would yours?

There were an estimated 4 million measles cases a year in the U.S. before the vaccine. That’s a lot of illness. It was also a lot of people not likely to get measles again because their immune systems had developed antibodies to the virus. But the vaccine meant you could avoid measles instead of surviving them. 

This vaccine, now given as part of a cocktail of vaccines against other childhood maladies, transformed measles from a threat to a memory.


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