Revaccination against measles and rubella

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7031.589 (Published 09 March 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:589
  1. Felicity T Cutts
  1. Senior lecturer Communicable Disease Epidemiology Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT fcutts@lshtm.ac.uk

    Side effects are outweighed by improved disease control

    In November 1994, 92% of the 7.1 million schoolchildren in England aged 5-16 years received measles and rubella (MR) vaccine. The aim was to avert an anticipated measles epidemic and bring closer the elimination of measles and rubella.1 The campaign successfully reduced susceptibility to measles in schoolchildren from 10% to 3%, and to rubella from 20% to 6% in boys and 11% to 2% in girls.2 Between January and October 1995, only 53 cases of measles were confirmed by laboratory tests, compared to 266 cases in the same period of 1994. Despite the better coverage and protection, concerns have been raised about the risks from the vaccination campaign.

    By the end of October 1995, Britain's Committee on Safety of Medicines had received 1202 reports describing 2735 suspected adverse reactions to the vaccines administered in the campaign, among which 530 were serious, though none was fatal.3 Symptoms and signs of anaphylaxis or allergic reactions within 24 hours of vaccination were reported from 1 in 65000 of those vaccinated. There were 91 reports of serious neurological reactions (including 61 reports of convulsions); but reported rates of encephalitis, convulsions, and Guillain-Barre syndrome were lower than the background prevalence of those conditions. The one report of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis occurred one month after vaccination in a child with a history of …

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