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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 421-424

The golden anniversary of the measles vaccine

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA

Correspondence Address:
Samuel L Katz
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.7707/hmj.357

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Developed in the Enders laboratory of Boston Children's Hospital (Boston, MA, USA) and Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA, USA) from 1954 to 1963, the live attenuated measles virus vaccine, ‘Edmonston’, was the product of multiple passages through varied cell culture systems and embryonated hens' eggs, and studies in susceptible cynomolgus monkeys prior to introduction to adult humans and then susceptible children. Successful results enabled widespread studies in American children, leading to licensure in March 1963. Extension of clinical investigations then proceeded in Nigeria among health-compromised susceptible children, demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of the Edmonston vaccine among these young people. With national and international adoption of routine vaccination, measles was reduced to an uncommon childhood infection in many countries and, with the progress to a two-dose schedule, was eliminated from the entire western hemisphere by 2002. The World Health Organization's inclusion of measles vaccine in its Expanded Program of Immunization since 1974 has reduced global mortality from measles and its complications from several million annually to approximately 150 000 by 2011. Leading the elimination efforts since 2001 has been the Measles Initiative, which was broadened in 2012 to include rubella vaccine. The vaccine induces enduring (lifelong) immunity and is effective against all 23 known measles virus genotypes.

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