Measles Vaccination Before the Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine

American Journal of Public Health
Volume 103, Issue 8 (August 2013)

Measles Vaccination Before the Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine
Jan Hendriks, MSc, and Stuart Blume, PhD, M

At the beginning of the 1960s, it was clear that a vaccine against measles would soon be available. Although measles was (and remains) a killer disease in the developing world, in the United States and Western Europe this was no longer so. Many parents and many medical practitioners considered measles an inevitable stage of a child’s development. Debating the desirability of measles immunization, public health experts reasoned differently. In the United States, introduction of the vaccine fit well with Kennedy’s and Johnson’s administrations’ political commitments. European policymakers proceeded cautiously, concerned about the acceptability of existing vaccination programs. In Sweden and the Netherlands, recent experience in controlling polio led researchers to prefer an inactivated virus vaccine. Although in the early 1970s attempts to develop a sufficiently potent inactivated vaccine were abandoned, we have argued that the debates and initiatives of the time during the vaccine’s early history merit reflection in today’s era of standardization and global markets.