The vaccination uses a live virus vaccine that is produced from attenuated measles viruses. Often, the vaccination is directed against mumps and rubella as well, and hence the vaccine is called MMR Vaccine. When the Vaccine is present in the body, the cells of the immune system recognise that a pathogen has entered the body. But the immune system can handle this pathogen, because it is strongly modified and weakened. This allows the defence cells of the human body to learn how to recognise and control measles viruses. The body never loses the ability to produce Antibody against the virus, which protects us, if we are ever exposed to the virus again. To make absolutely sure that the Vaccine is effective, it has been standard in the past 25 years to vaccinate children twice.
Andrew Wakefield and being afraid of the vaccination
A good way to eradicate this infectious disease. However: Many people are still afraid of side effects of the vaccination. A fear that has been fuelled time and again by so-called experts.
The biggest scandal in this context occurred in 1998, when the British physician, Andrew Wakefield, published a study in "Lancet“, a medical journal, claiming that there was a link between the MMR Vaccine and autism in children. It became evident later on that the study was manipulated and faulty. But it impacted the vaccination rates which dropped drastically after publication, mainly in the United Kingdom, and studies still show that Wakefield's publication has a detrimental influence on the vaccination behaviour.
The fear persists despite all the studies demonstrating the opposite, and even though the actual side effects caused by Vaccine are considered harmless. As is the case with any vaccination, there may be some reddening or mild fever. These symptoms are truly minor compared to the damage an Infection by the virus may cause.
Debate about compulsory vaccination
This is one of the reasons, why the latest outbreak has led to heated debates concerning compulsory vaccination. Thus far, this vaccination, like all others in Germany, is recommended, but on a voluntary basis. The fly in the ointment: Anybody who refuses, for no sound medical reason, to have a child vaccinated harms not only that child but others as well. Especially infants who are too young for vaccination and children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons are at a particularly high risk.
This is one of the reasons why politicians are now thinking about instituting compulsory vaccination. Federal health minister Hermann Gröhe recently announced to have the issue discussed again in the scope of the imminent parliamentary deliberations of the Law on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases.