Feature Article: New Information Means Measles Is Even Worse Than We Thought

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Parents PACK

We know measles kills about 1 of every 500 people it infects. We know measles can cause a fatal condition called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, or SSPE, years after the original infection. Now, we know something else about measles — it can wipe out a person’s immunity to infections other than measles.

In this new Science Made Easy video, Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center, discusses the implications of this finding related to both measles disease and vaccination. Specifically, people infected with measles may be more susceptible to other infections because of the damage done to their immunologic memory. On the other hand, the vaccine does not have this effect on immunologic memory. This finding offers yet another reason to protect children against measles by vaccinating them.

Go the video page to watch How Does Natural Infection with Measles Suppress the Immune System?

Additional resources

For more information about measles and the MMR vaccine, check out these resources from the Vaccine Education Center:

  • A Look at Each Vaccine: Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccines — Find information about measles, mumps and rubella disease and vaccination, including the relative risks and benefits of getting the MMR vaccine. Also, see answers to frequently asked questions.
  • Measles: What You Should Know Q&A sheet — Available in English, Spanish and Japanese, this downloadable PDF provides in-depth information about measles infection and the MMR vaccine.
  • Is the MMR Vaccine Safe? — In this short video, Dr. Offit addresses concerns about the safety of MMR vaccine.

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.