According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent measles is by getting the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. They claim that it is very safe, causing only very mild side effects, such as rash and fever.1
However, is this really the best way to protect yourself and your family from this highly contagious respiratory infection?
The MMR Vaccine Cannot Prevent Measles Infection
For a long time, Dr. Gregory Poland, professor of medicine and founder of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, has been a strong proponent of mandatory vaccination.
He is also the editor-in-chief of the medical journal Vaccine, and in an editorial, he made surprising statements criticizing the MMR vaccine’s failure to prevent measles.2 According to Poland:3
"… the immune response to measles vaccine varies substantially in actual field use. Multiple studies demonstrate that 2 to 10 percent of those immunized with two doses of measles vaccine fail to develop protective antibody levels, and that immunity can wane over time and result in infection (so-called secondary vaccine failure) when the individual is exposed to measles.
For example, during the 1989 to 1991 U.S. measles outbreaks, 20 to 40 percent of the individuals affected had been previously immunized with one to two doses of vaccine. In an October 2011 outbreak in Canada, over 50 percent of the 98 individuals had received two doses of measles vaccine … this phenomenon continues to play a role in measles outbreaks.
Thus, measles outbreaks also occur even among highly vaccinated populations because of primary and secondary vaccine failure, which results in gradually larger pools of susceptible persons and outbreaks once measles is introduced. This leads to a paradoxical situation whereby measles in highly immunized societies occurs primarily among those previously immunized."
Therefore, even if you already have two doses of the MMR vaccine, you can still get infected with measles. As a matter of fact, there is evidence that an increasing number of vaccinated children and adults in the U.S. and around the world are still getting measles.4,5,6
But aside from its ineffectiveness, there are other reasons why vaccination is not the best way to prevent measles.
The Potential Dangers of the Measles Vaccine
Before considering vaccination, you should be aware that vaccines have many potential side effects. The CDC lists these as possible side effects of the MMR and MMRV (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella) vaccines:7
• Long-term seizures, lowered consciousness or coma
• Permanent brain damage
• Seizures caused by fever
• Temporary low platelet count, which can cause a bleeding disorder
According to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), there were 98 deaths following MMR or MMRV vaccinations reported between 2003 and 2015. Moreover, there have been 694 reports of MMR or MMRV vaccinations causing disability during the same time frame.
Alarmingly, it is estimated that less than 10 percent of vaccine adverse events are reported to VAERS,8,9 which means that the actual number of measles vaccine-related deaths can be as high as 980, while the number of disabilities can reach 6,940.10
It is even possible to come down with measles after vaccination, which is the case of a 2-year-old who got vaccine-related measles 37 days after receiving the MMR vaccine in 2013.11
Disturbingly, there is also evidence that recently vaccinated people can spread disease, including measles. Barbara Loe Fisher, the co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), stated that you can shed live virus in body fluids whether you have a viral infection or have gotten a live attenuated viral vaccine.12
These facts show that measles vaccination is not just ineffective, but is also likely an unsafe way to prevent infection. Fortunately, there are safer ways to protect yourself and your family from this serious disease.
How to Prevent Measles and Its Complications
Vitamin C supplementation is one viable option for measles prevention. When used prophylactically (for prevention) in doses as high as 1,000 milligrams every six hours (intravenously or intramuscularly), vitamin C has been shown to protect against the measles virus. In the same study, oral vitamin C administration (1,000 milligram doses every two hours) during the onset of fever and Koplik’s spots eliminated all signs and symptoms of measles in 48 hours.13,14
For reducing measles-related mortality, concomitant infection, and hospital stay, you can try vitamin A supplementation. Vitamin A upregulates the innate immune system in uninfected cells, stopping the measles virus from multiplying rapidly.15
Getting enough vitamin D can also help fight infections and strengthen your immune system.16 There are studies showing that vitamin D deficiency contributes to an impaired ability of the immune system to fight the measles virus. Next to appropriate sunlight exposure, vitamin D3 supplementation is the next best way to optimize your vitamin D levels. Researchers suggest that the use of vitamin D3 supplements may be a simple and affordable way to combat even the most severe viral infections, such as HIV.17,18
In a nutshell, optimizing your immune function is clearly a safer and more effective way to prevent measles infection and avoid serious complications if you contract this disease.