Safety of measles vaccines

  • P. E. M. Fine


Standard dose further attenuated measles vaccines, widely used throughout the world for the past two decades, are among the safest vaccines in use today. Local reactions at the site of injection are minimal. The dominant reactions are associated with a mild, measles-like syndrome which occurs in from 2 to 30% of recipients approximately a week after vaccination. Febrile convulsions may occur in approximately one per 1000 vaccinees, but generally resolve without sequelae. There is some evidence that measles vaccines may be associated with encephalitis or encephalopathy, but causality is still unconfirmed. The attributable risks may be on the order of one per 100 000 vaccinations. If SSPE is associated at all with measles vaccines its risk is ten-fold less frequent than after wild measles infection, thus no higher than 1 per million vaccinees. All such risks pale in comparison to those associated with natural measles, which still remains endemic throughout the world.

Evidence that high titre measles vaccines may be associated with increased long term mortality has led to the withdrawal of their use.


Measle Virus Attributable Risk Pertussis Vaccine Measle Vaccine Whooping Cough 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. E. M. Fine
    • 1
  1. 1.Communicable Disease Epidemiology Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Population SciencesLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUK

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