Live MMR Vaccine Linked to Lower Rate of Infection-Related Hospital Admissions for Children

MMR Vaccine SyringeChildren who receive the live measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine on schedule have a lower rate of hospital admissions for infection, lower respiratory tract infections in particular, says a new study published in the journal JAMA.

Vaccines provide protection against target diseases. For example, the MMR vaccine protects against the measles, the mumps, and rubella (German measles). However, previous studies from low-income countries indicate that vaccines may also have nonspecific effects that reduce illness and death from non-targeted diseases.

For the present study, researchers led by Signe Sorup, Ph.D., of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark investigated an association between the live MMR vaccine and hospital admissions for infections among children in a higher-income setting in Denmark. Participants included 495,987 children born between 1997 and 2006. The study followed the children from ages 11 months to 2 years.

The recommended vaccination schedule in Denmarks recommends the MMR vaccine at 15 months old and the inactivated vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP-IPV-Hib) at ages 3, 5, and 12 months

The researchers found 56,889 hospital admissions for any type of infection among the children in the study. However, the researchers discovered that receiving the live MMR vaccine after the inactivated DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine was associated with a lower rate of hospital admissions for any infection. Additionally, children who received the DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine after the MMR vaccine had a higher rate of infectious disease admission.

In other words, receiving vaccines in the recommended order protects children not just against targeted diseases but also against other non-targeted health problems. The findings of the present study highlight the importance of following recommended vaccination schedules.

Conclude the authors:

“The coverage with MMR is suboptimal in many high-income countries; in the present study, about 50 percent of children were not vaccinated on time. Physicians should encourage parents to have children vaccinated on time with MMR and avoid giving vaccinations out of sequence, because the present study suggests that timely MMR vaccination averted a considerable number of hospital admissions for any infection between ages 16 and 24 months.”

Write David Goldblatt, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., of the UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, London, and Elizabeth Miller, F.R.C.Path., of Public Health England, London in an accompanying editorial:

“Systematic reviews of all available epidemiologic and immunologic evidence relevant to the issue of the nonspecific effects of vaccines on childhood mortality will be undertaken to decide whether current evidence is sufficient to lead to adjustments in policy recommendations or to warrant further scientific investigation. The study by Sorup et al is a further contribution to this body of literature. Although reanalysis of the available evidence is important, the ability to properly control for bias and confounding [factors that can influence outcomes] in observational studies is often limited, and without randomized controlled trials specifically designed to test the hypothesis, the issue of nonspecific effects of vaccines may remain subject to continuing debate.”

Have your children received the MMR vaccine?


MMR Vaccine Linked to Lower Rate of Infection-Related Hospital Admissions:
Receipt of Live MMR Vaccine Associated With Lower Rate of Infection-Related Hospital Admissions For Children:
Receipt of live MMR vaccine associated with lower rate of infection-related hospital admissions for children:

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