The experiment on immunizations has been conducted once more, and once again, we find the same result, if a community drops its rate of immunization against a disease, that community will see that disease re-appear and spread in epidemics.
As we all know, the US rate of immunization for measles has dropped, by parents’ choice, to a level that could open the door to new measles epidemics, and my goodness, the epidemics have appeared, just as one would expect.
I know of a case of measles in Chicago and one in Pittsburgh, and so I will not be surprised if it appears in Cleveland anytime soon.
But here is some good news. The MMR which immunizes against measles, mumps, and rubella, works quite well. And, its protection lasts a lifetime, requiring no booster doses.
How well does the MMR work?
If you get an MMR on or after your 1st birthday, it works 95% of the time, meaning that if 100 such people find a person with a case of measles in their midst, only 5 of the 100 will get measles. Or, that person has a 95% chance of not getting measles at all.
If you get a second MMR a month or more after a first MMR given on your 1st birthday or later, it works 97% of the time, meaning that if 100 such people find a person with a case of measles in their midst, only 3 of the 100 will get measles. Or, that person has a 97% chance of not getting measles at all.
Now, for the 3-5 people out of 100 who will get measles if exposed, the disease is far milder, and the person is far less contagious. Remember, unimmunized people will get measles from an exposure 90% (!) of the time.
If the MMR, the first or second, works, it works for the rest of your life. And if you get two MMR’s, getting three appears not to boost the level of protection above 97% or so.
- The answer is in. If everyone gets the MMR, there will be no measles in that community.
- If enough people do not get the MMR, measles epidemics erupt in that community.
- If you get two MMR’s at the right age and interval, you drop your chances of ever getting measles, even if exposed, 97% of the time you won’ t get measles.
- If you get measles after appropriate immunization, you are still protected, the illness is much milder. Unimmunized children in the US face a risk of dying at the rate of 1 in 1000 cases of measles. That threat of deadly infection is essentially eliminated by the MMR.
- Once you have 2 MMR’s, at the right age and interval, you never need another.
We hope everyone gets their children immunized with MMR, we need to stop these epidemics now before any further harm happens.
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin