During the 1997–1998 measles epidemic in Poland a high attack rate occurred in infants up to 1 year of age (24.6/100,000 in comparison with 5.5/100,000 in total population). Routine vaccination against measles for infants aged 13–15 months was introduced in Poland in 1975, and a second dose added in 1991. The recommended age for measles vaccination was based on information gathered in years when most mothers had a natural measles. Nowadays, many mothers have received measles vaccine.

Early loss of passively acquired measles antibody may occur in infants of women who received measles vaccine, because measles vaccine induces lower antibody titres than does natural infection.

Therefore, measles-specific antibody titres were determined among vaccinated and unvaccinated women as well as among infants, whose mothers were born after 1976 and likely were vaccinated (Group 1), and those, whose mothers were born before 1969 and likely have had a natural measles (Group 2). All women that were born in prevaccination era had significantly higher geometric mean titre (GMT) of measles antibody than those who were vaccinated (P<0.001).

Also infants from Group 2 at every age had higher GMT of measles antibody than those of Group 1. The antibody decay was significantly faster among infants whose mothers acquired immunity by measles vaccination. Because nowadays the majority of women in childbearing age are vaccinated against measles, earlier vaccination in the infants should be considered.

Vaccine, Volume 21, Issues 21–22, 20 June 2003, Pages 2948–2953.

Due to vaccination not providing life-long immunity and leaving people vulnerable to infection as they get older, measles deaths now only occur in the immuno-compromised or in adults. The UK government said:

‘Prior to 2006, the last death from acute measles was in 1992. In 2006, there was 1 measles death in a 13-year-old male who had an underlying lung condition and was taking immunosuppressive drugs. Another death in 2008 was also due to acute measles in an unvaccinated child with a congenital immunodeficiency, whose condition did not require treatment with immunoglobulin. In 2013, 1 death was reported in a 25-year-old man following acute pneumonia as a complication of measles.

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