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What are the Pros and Cons of Measles Vaccination?

By T. Broderick
Updated Feb 28, 2024
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A measles vaccination has many pros and few cons. The main advantage is that a measles vaccination protects against the disease. The vaccines currently available also protect against other common childhood diseases. The only con is that mild symptoms of measles appear in a small percentage of vaccine recipients. This or other vaccines for childhood diseases do not cause autism.

A measles vaccination gives lifetime immunity from the disease and its complications. Measles is a virus that attacks the respiratory system. Classic symptoms are a high fever, coughing and rash. Highly contagious, symptoms persist for ten days. Though the chances of dying from measles are less than 1%, complications such as bronchitis and/or pneumonia occur in 10% of patients.

Another advantage of a measles vaccination is that the vaccination also protects against mumps and rubella (MMR vaccination) or mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV vaccination). These other diseases, though not usually fatal, can have serious complications. For example, if a man catches mumps after puberty, there is a chance that sterility can occur. Varicella, also known as chicken pox, can leave permanent physical scarring in the form of pox marks. Preventing these complications is reason enough to have one or one's children vaccinated against measles and other childhood diseases.

The only con of a measles vaccination is that in a small group of people, less than 15% of vaccine recipients, mild symptoms of the disease develop due to vaccine. This occurs because the vaccine uses a weakened, but alive virus to prompt an immune response. Those who suffer from side effects rebound quickly. The chances of complications are much lower than those if one had caught the disease. People with immune diseases such as AIDS should not take the vaccine, as the chances of developing symptoms are much higher for them than the general population.

Despite the public debate and anti-vaccination campaigns of the last few decades, there is no scientific evidence to support that vaccinations for childhood diseases cause autism. The research that anti-vaccination groups use is faulty and has been discredited countless times in the medical community. Real research over the past decade has shown that the disorder is due to genetic variations present at conception. Parents who believe they are protecting their children against autism are in fact making them vulnerable to diseases and complications. As a result, cases of measles, mumps, and rubella are once again on the rise in the United States and elsewhere.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon985806 — On Jan 20, 2015

To willing put any live virus in our bodies is a gamble. To do so and to take the chance of falling ill anyway is a shame. Death does occur from vaccines where one who wasn't is still alive.

If we allow and welcome, everyone person from all over the world to come visit America, which we do, then it is not the blame of the non vaccinated; it is a fault in our political system. We are the only country that allows so many visitors with few background checks. It is easy to allow our country to fall ill. We are welcoming, friendly Americans, yet blame the best friend when anything goes wrong. So when you put blame on those who have not and will not vaccinate, because it is the right thing to do is completely rude and hypocritical.

So let's see here: inject a live virus into ourselves, knowing it is live, okay 5 percent live. The fact is, it is live. Risking an outbreak at the time of injection, and not getting as severe a case is the part that makes it all better. Let's not forget we just put a live virus in our body and still have a chance of an outbreak. So please explain how this is a good thing and that the injected, vaccinated person is not the one that set off the outbreak!?

What about those who died from the so called bad batch, etc. Because the pharmaceutical companies will not accept any fault. At least we're educated!

Thank god the educated ones who vaccinate their babies are acting on others to put blame. No way would this have ever happened if my neighbor did what they were supposed to.

Education is not blaming someone. It is doing your own hard work and research and being one who uses their own mind and ideas rather than others.

We can't blame anyone but ourselves. Why should the child who isn't vaccinated stay home? Why not anyone who is sick?

When my children are sick, I keep them home because they are sick and they need not spread whatever they have to anyone, but it was spread by someone before them. We just have to all do our part and realize it takes more to get worked up and blame others rather than doing what is best and getting better.

I could point out many facts, but am doing my best to just keep it a thinking for yourself level.

Merely speaking, we believe in God because how could be tell ourselves and children when you die, you're dead? Yet we have no one fact that there is a god. If you don't believe you will burn, you're a Satan worshiper. Same thing. We just don't think for ourselves.

By anon348033 — On Sep 12, 2013

I agree that the pros outweigh the cons. However, we must not delude ourselves. It is a numbers game. We cannot say vaccines do not cause/result in autism, injury or death (reactions, bad batch, etc). We can say there is no proof that vaccines cause autism -- big difference. We could loosely say that the concept of vaccinations would not cause autism. However, the way vaccinations are implemented is far from a perfect system.

Also, in my humble opinion, the Centers for Disease Control would not allow proof of a vaccine problem to get out or be substantiated. If there is a problem, the CDC will quickly rectify the problem by whatever means necessary (regardless of whether it is true or not). It is critical for vaccines to have consumer confidence. The alternative is a pandemic which, if you understand CDC guidelines and authority for handling a potential or active pandemic, you would understand why consumer confidence is paramount.

Also, people don't realize you really cannot sue a pharmaceutical company for wrongful injury or death due to a vaccine. That was the deal. Otherwise, we would not have vaccines produced – the liability would be inconceivable. I believe there is a separate process with damages at $250k max in US.

By Mor — On Feb 11, 2012

@irontoenail - That's mostly because of misinformation as well. They keep getting close to stopping polio altogether and then there'll be some tribe which refuses to vaccinate because they don't understand what it is or whatever.

But at least they have the excuse of not having a full education.

I also just want to say that when you get your kids vaccinated, make sure you keep the proof and records of when it was done. If they are planning on visiting certain other countries in the future they might need those to prove that the vaccines were done.

By irontoenail — On Feb 10, 2012

@KoiwiGal - Unfortunately, the average parent just doesn't know who to trust. The guy who released a "study" showing that vaccines can be linked to autism probably made it look just as authentic as any other kind of scientific study, at least to the average person.

They don't necessarily know about peer reviews and so forth. To them it's just a bunch of scientists fighting it out with no clear right or wrong, so they err on the side of not giving their child autism.

What makes me mad is that he did it in the first place, basically to sell his books. And meanwhile, kids in developed countries are suffering from illnesses that should have been prevented.

Polio is the one that I'm really worried about though, rather than the measles vaccine. That was a terrible illness back in the day and it could easily spread again since it has still not been eliminated from the world.

By KoiwiGal — On Feb 10, 2012

Thank you so much for emphasizing that there is no danger to vaccines or that the danger is far, far less critical than the danger of not getting vaccines.

It makes me so sad that there are so many parents who have been misinformed about this particular important part of life.

There have been more and more measles outbreaks in the last few years and it's almost entirely due to parents not getting their children immunized, thinking that this is the right thing to do.

It is absolutely not the right thing to do.

The thing that really gets me is even if there was a very small chance of autism (which there absolutely is not) compared with the pretty sure chance that your child will get the measles (which can lead to deafness, infertility and other conditions, or even death) seems like a no-brainer to me anyway.

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