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Vaccine safety has become a hot topic for parents who insist on not having their children vaccinated. As an RN I'm openly opposed to anyone that thinks skipping childhood vaccinations is a good idea. A new study highlights the ongoing harm to a child's immune system once they're infected with the measles.
Measles destroys pre-existing antibodies
The finding that is published today in the journal Science describes how the measles virus destroys immunity a child has against other bacteria and viruses. In essence, getting the measles makes your child more susceptible to chicken-pox because the virus destrtoys pre-existing antibodies. But that's not all.
The study, led by a team of researchers at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed measles can make children 11 to 73 percent more susceptible to everything from the flu to infections of the skin; including the herpes virus.
Taking a chance that a child could die or suffer pneumonia or brain damage is bad enough. Understanding that measles destroys immunity for months and possibly years should make 'anti-vaxers' take note.
One of the studies that involved Michael Mina, a Harvard virologist, examined blood samples from 77 children before and after they became infected with measles during an outbreak in the Netherlands in 2013; using a technique called VirScan.
"These were really healthy kids, said Mina. After the [measles], the children lost an average of about 20 percent of their antibody repertoire."Some children lost up to 70 percent of their immunity to other pathogens. A child vaccinated previously for mumps could get the mumps again if exposed.
"It's like taking somebody's immune system and rewinding time, putting them at a more naive state," says Mina.The measles vaccine did not have the same adverse effect on immune system 'memory'. The study instead showed, as previously thought, that the measles vaccine appeared to boost the immune system in infants and children, though the authors wrote: "...we cannot definitvely rule out the potential for minor reductions of antibody producing cells with measles vaccination."
A sobering fact published by the study authors includes that measles accounts for 100,000 deaths annually, often from secondary infections. This finding, for any rational parent, is even more reason to understand that skipping vaccines is a really bad idea.