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Measles vs. the Immune System

May 11, 2015

The measles vaccine protects the immune system from other infectious diseases.



This 1962 image depicts a schoolboy receiving a measles vaccination CDC

A boy receives a measles vaccination in the early 1960s. (Centers for Disease Control)


Measles vs. the immune system. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The measles virus is pernicious. In addition to being extremely contagious, it erases the immune system’s previously acquired defenses. This makes people vulnerable to a host of other infectious diseases for up to three years while the immune system rebuilds itself. In the journal Science, Princeton and Emory researcher Michael Mina and his colleagues analyzed measles cases from before and after the vaccine was introduced half a century ago.

MICHAEL MINA (Princeton University/Emory University Medical School):

Measles measles vaccine was associated with about a 50% reduction in all cause childhood infectious disease mortality; the corollary to that is that measles through these long-term effects, was actually leading to about 50% of all of the deaths due to other infectious diseases.


So by stopping measles’ attack on our immune systems, the vaccine protects us from other dangerous infections. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.