Fears measles vaccines may be ’waning’

By | June 25, 2019

Fears are emerging that vaccines may be becoming less effective against measles after more than a dozen vaccinated Victorians contracted the disease.

Research published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal found that 13 people who were hospitalised with measles between 2014 and 2017 had already been vaccinated against the disease at least once in the past.

However, their immunity had waned over time causing them to contract the virus.

Measles is so contagious that 90 per cent of people who aren’t immune that come into contact with the disease will become infected.

Dr Katherine Gibney, an epidemiologist at the Doherty Institute and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, said this problem can arise when people have only had one measles vaccine.

“If you had been vaccinated and came into contact with someone with measles you might get a little natural boost in your antibody levels,” she said in a statement.

“Overall, in countries that have eliminated measles transmission, this is likely to emerge as a problem.

“There isn’t going to be an enormous number of cases, but it will be important in terms of recognising measles, because the cases are a bit different to those who aren’t immune.”

Though the patients mentioned in the research were diagnosed with measles, they weren’t displaying what would be considered classic symptoms of the disease.

Patients weren’t reporting fever, cough or a runny nose but they did have a rash.

A typical case of measles usually includes all of these symptoms, along with tiredness and sore red eyes.

According to Dr Gibney, a lot of people are unsure whether they have had one or two doses of the vaccine.

She warned that adults born between 1965 and 1990 may not have received two doses of the vaccine during their routine childhood immunisation.

“In most cases, people are unaware they need the second vaccine, or they simply don’t remember if they have had one or two,” She said.

“Anyone who is unsure if they have had two doses of measles vaccine should see their doctor about getting an additional dose.

So far in 2019 there have been 92 confirmed cases of measles in Australia.

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