Not even booster vaccination of previously vaccinated children made any difference. One study in 1979 warned of an increasing number of adolescents contracting measles. While in the pre-vaccine era 90 per cent of all measles patients were 5 to 9 years old, once the measles vaccine was introduced, 55-64 per cent of measles patients were older than 10 years. The average age of patients during the measles outbreak in the UCLA was 20-24 years (Ann Int Med, 1979;90 (6): 978-80).
Furthermore, once vaccines were introduced, whether or not a patient had measles or had been vaccinated didn't seem to correlate with what was generally considered evidence of immunity in the blood.
Re-vaccination of these young adults was associated with high rates of
major side effects, with about 17 per cent reporting significant fever, eye pain and the need for bed rest.
By 1981, instead of achieving eradication of measles, the US was hit repeatedly by major epidemics of measles, mostly in fully vaccinated communities. Atypical measles persisted as a "continuing problem", according to E M Nichols (Am J of Public Health, 1979; 69 (2): 160-2). The age of those contracting measles continued to climb well above 10 years and was associated with serious illnesses. Adults and babies below the age of 2 years, in some cases only a few months old both populations free from disease before the advent of vaccination were now contracting measles.
By 1984, the establishment blamed these outbreaks on use in the Sixties of what the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now termed the "ineffective formalin-inactivated ('killed') measles vaccine", which had been administered to 600,000 to 900,000 individuals from 1963 to 1967 ( MMWR, 4 October 1984).
However, other studies demonstrated significant failure among the supposedly improved vaccines as well. One outbreak of measles occurred in junior high schools in Hobbs, New Mexico, where 98 per cent of students had been vaccinated against measles with the live vaccine shortly before the outbreak began (MMWR, 1 February 1985).
Another outbreak of measles occurred in a secondary school population in which more than 99 per cent had records of vaccination with live measles vaccine (New England J Med, 1987; 316 (13): 771-4). Another issue of the MMWR (2 September 1988) dealt with 76 measles outbreaks in the United States. Most of the cases described were primary vaccine failures.
During some outbreaks, re-vaccination with the same vaccines was recommended, even though the scientific evidence demonstrated that re-vaccination was ineffective. One study showed that antibody levels in re-immunized children may fall after several months to very low levels, and that children vaccinated twice may still experience clinically recognizable measles, although in a milder form.
The Next Generation
This observation highlighted another looming problem, namely, that generations of children with so-called "inadequate immunity" would grow into adults with no placental immunity to pass on to their children, who would then contract measles at an age when babies are normally protected by maternal antibody.
This was indeed confirmed by another study, which demonstrated that "hemagglutinin-inhibiting and neutralizing antibody titers are lower in women young enough to have been immunized by vaccination than in older women" (J Pediatrics, 1986; 108 (1): 671-6).