Measles outbreaks have potential to spread farther, and through more people, than we thought


A few years prior to the current measles outbreak in Canada, there was an advisory for people born the 80s to get another MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) boost shot.

Apparently the the vaccine given to the people of that era and area, was considered halved it’s effectiveness.

Makes me wonder if that also played a minor role to the “outbreak”.

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Any information on whether people who got our measles immunity by getting the disease also lose it over time? (I’m of an age to have gotten measles before the vaccine came out.)


I found this info on a CDC site:

As an adult, do I need the MMR vaccine?
You do not need the MMR vaccine if you

  • had blood tests that show you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella
  • are someone born before 1957
  • already had two doses of MMR or one dose of MMR plus a second dose of measles vaccine
  • already had one dose of MMR and are not at high risk of measles exposure

“People born before 1957 lived through several years of epidemic measles before the first measles vaccine was licensed. As a result, these people are very likely to have had the measles disease. Surveys suggest that 95% to 98% of those born before 1957 are immune to measles. Note: The “1957 rule” applies only to measles and mumps—it does NOT apply to rubella.”

I had measles (and most other childhood diseases) before vaccines for them existed. Ever since, I have been blissfully confident that I had nothing more to worry about. Recently I read a theory (from only one source) that in the pre-vaccine era people were regularly exposed to these pathogens after their initial recovery, giving their antibodies a natural boost. Now that these diseases are rarely encountered, even naturally-acquired immunity fades over time. Can anyone comment?

sh!t… does this mean I need to risk getting autism again? (wondering if I am stirring the bee’s nest of anti-vaccination people)


My $0.02:

I had measles when I was in high school, during the late-1980s. I had been vaccinated during infancy, but I was told that the vaccines were given too early back then, and weren’t sufficiently effective. Quite a few other people at school also had measles. The county health department came out to my house and did a blood test, to verify that it was indeed measles. After I returned to school they came there and took another one, to verify that I was no longer sick. (I hate needles.)

I remember it felt like a cold coming on, and then one day I woke up covered in spots. (It happened to be the same morning that I was supposed to take the SAT – which I went ahead and did.) It wasn’t until several days later that I actually felt sick. It’s worse than a cold, but not as bad as the flu. It kind of fucked up my hearing in one ear, though.

Vaccines have never been 100% effective. The big effect is “herd immunity.” If an infected person would have spread the disease to 10 other people, but all are vaccinated using a vaccine with a 5% failure rate, then the victim will inflict, on average, only half a person. In other words, on averaage, 16 people will infect 8, who will then infect 4, who will then infect 2, who will infect 1, who has 1 50% shot of infecting another 1, and so on. On average, those 16 will spread the disease to only 16 others before the outbreak dies out. Even though vaccine failure may be devastating to the infected individual, even an imperfect vaccine can provide tremendous population to the population at large.


Thanks for that. One of the better explanations of herd immunity that I’ve seen.

In Canada (or maybe just Ontario? I’m not sure if the guidelines are federal or provincial), they didn’t start recommending 2 doses of the MMR vaccine until 1991 or so, if memory serves. So I think it was generally recommended that anybody vaccinated before 1991 get a booster. I have the worst memory in the entire world, so I don’t even know if I ever got my booster or not. I probably should have, before my kids were born, but I honestly have no recollection of that period (I blame it on the extreme sleep deprivation that I suffered immediately after that period).

The administering of vaccines is provincial level. Generally you’re giving something for your records, a card, a piece of paper when you get a shot.

You could get yourself a blood test and then decide. Although I don’t know about the costs of such a test. I do know generally MMR booster shot should be covered by your province’s medical care.

Well, I’ve been meaning to go see my doctor regarding getting a prescription for orthotics, any way, so I suppose I can just ask her. :slight_smile:

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