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Experts from the CDC Answer Questions About Vaccines

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From the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at CDC, introducing
Medical Officer Andrew T. Kroger, MD, MPH
Nurse Educator Donna L. Weaver, RN, MN
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QUESTION: In regard to the current measles outbreak, some people are saying that children who have not had the vaccine should pose no threat to vaccinated people. It is my understanding that during an outbreak, vaccinated people can still contract it. Am I correct?
ANSWER: You are correct that vaccinated people can still be infected with infections against which they are vaccinated. No vaccine is 100% effective. Vaccine effectiveness varies from greater than 95% (for diseases such as measles, rubella, hepatitis B) to much lower (influenza this year 23%, and 60% in years with a good match of wild and vaccine viruses, and the acellular pertussis vaccines after 5 years or so offer only about 70% protection). Therefore, we encourage as many people as possible to be vaccinated, to avoid outbreaks, while working towards the development of better vaccines (such as for influenza and pertussis). More information is available for each vaccine and disease at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/default.htm and www.immunize.org/vaccines.
Question of the Week Archive
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