To do or not to do vaccinations as a child has become a big deal. Many parents are not giving their children vaccines because of fake news hypes about their problems. This is not good, because they are essentially setting their children up for worse problems as they get older.

Now we have proof that vaccinating your child is good for long term prevention of not just measles, but of many other diseases that are associated with the ability of your immune system to function properly. An article published in Science magazine[1] is an eyeopener for all those parents who are considering withholding the measles vaccine from their children.

If you don’t vaccinate, this may result in a weakened immune system. This may increase the Childs’s risks of developing other infections, such as otitis, pneumonia, or even the common cold. Plus, it may take years before your child’s immune system builds back up to a more normal level.

Long term, if this damage is potentially permanent, what could happen? As we age, our immune system decreases its efficiency anyway, which sets up for increased inflammation within the body. Since all chronic medical illnesses are associated with poor efficiency of your immune system and inflammation, this new information is critical. Prevention of these problems, i.e. anti-aging, therefore starts even in childhood. The reason may be in the mechanism of how your immune response system works.

The Memory of the Immune Response

A little immune response education will help you understand what’s going on here. When you get exposed to a virus, or any other pathogen, your immune system recognizes this entity as foreign, i.e. not a natural part of your body. They don’t have the same DNA as yours, which starts the immune process to get rid of it to prevent the pathogen from causing their disease and to treat the disease.

The result is that, after we get the pathogen’s disease, e.g. measles, the body heals itself over time. Your immune system does this through multiple pathways, but specifically it creates an army of cells, called B-cells, that have learned to produce antibodies against the pathogen in response to the presence of the virus within the body. Antibodies are compounds that essentially attach themselves to that particular pathogen, the measles virus in this case, and destroy it without hurting any of your natural cells which of course contain your own DNA.

This army of B-cells remembers this nasty virus; thus, they are called memory cells. After the disease is gone, i.e. you’re “cured”, you then continue to have a reservoir of these B-cells in your body. If you come in contact with the measles virus again, they rapidly identify it, attack it and destroy it before the virus can set-up an infection again.

This is why once you get measles, you don’t get it again. The measles vaccine does essentially the same stimulation of your immune system to produce these memory cells, but without you having to suffer through clinical measles disease. If you get a are cold (and there are many strains of the common cold), the same system works, and you get stimulation of your immune system for that strain of the cold.

An added benefit most of the time is this memory immune response also tends to stimulate immunity towards other diseases, so you get the benefit of less chance of getting other diseases. Other strains of respiratory viruses are less likely to come in and infect you and cause other types of diseases.

This protection from other pathogenic diseases is called the repertory response. The virus tends to create a number of B-cells and other immune cells that protect you from other pathogens. In other words, you now have a variety of immune cells, a repertoire, that may protect you from acquiring other pathogenic infections. This is a very GOOD thing, as this article substantiates.

For example, many doctors have observed that once their patients receive a flu vaccine they tend to get fewer colds during the cold season. This is thought to be due to this repertoire response and is very important for protecting you from developing other disease such as pneumonia.

Unfortunately, getting the measles disease seems to harm this ability of your immune system to produce this repertory response, according to this latest research article. Getting the Vaccine Results in A Repertoire of Immune Cells, While the Measles Disease Worsens It

The importance of the recent article in Science is that it showed proof that you need these memory cells to prevent you from getting not only measles, but many other diseases. However, getting the actual measles disease appears to weaken your immune system. However, getting the vaccine does not. You get to keep your repertoire of immune cells when you get the vaccine, but getting the disease tends to destroy this response.

The study showed that those children who did NOT receive the measles vaccine and who developed measles had a marked reduction in the ability of their immune system to produce an antibody repertoire response. This reduction was from 11% to 73% of the antibody repertoire response.

Once they discovered this, the researchers wanted to confirm this finding. They therefore did a study in a controlled fashion using rhesus macaque monkeys. They found that the overall ability of the monkey’s repertoire response was markedly reduced. Each monkey lost, on average, 40% to 60% of its preexisting antibody repertoire for at least 5 months (the length of the study). We don’t know if this impaired response continued as they got older, but we do know that could take years before it comes back.

Persistence of Immune Amnesia after Measles Disease

The poor repertoire response has now been called an immune amnesia state. This is reflected in less antibodies formed, most likely due to reduced numbers of memory cells when you get the actual disease measles. The measles virus can infect 20% to 70% of immune memory cells, which thus may result in this amnestic response. This may be seen in other immune cells besides B-cells, including T cells (the killer cells) and plasma cells (other cells that can produce antibodies). However, this destruction is not seen when the measles vaccine is administered, protecting you, or your child, from developing the measles.

This study thus emphasizes the need to administer the measles vaccine to every child. You want to prevent the child from getting measles, so they maintain a better immune system long-term. If they get actual measles disease, this is not good for the short term nor the long-term.

Over 120,000 deaths occur worldwide due to measles per se. From this recent study, now we see that even more problems can develop long-term due to the reduction in memory and repertoire immune response if you get the measle disease, but not from the vaccine. In fact, the WHO (World Health Organization) recently reported that the measles vaccine has prevented more than 21 million deaths directly attributable to measle between 2000 and 2017.[2]

What this Means to You: Conclusion

It is now obvious that every child should get the measles vaccine, included in the MMR vaccine. Withholding this vaccine from children could not only result in short term problems, such as death, but also long-term problems such as a reduction in ability to produce a defense immune response to many other diseases, i.e. a reduce memory repertoire.

Parents who have been afraid of giving the vaccine to their children should read this article; an eye-opener. Giving the vaccine could potentially avert hundreds of thousands of additional deaths attributable to the lasting damage to the child’s immune system as he/she gets older.

References:

[1] Mina MJ. Et al. Measles virus infection diminishes preexisting antibodies that offer protection from other pathogens. Science01 Nov 2019, 366(6465): 599-606. DOI: 10.1126/science.aay6485

[2] World Health Organization, Measles fact sheet (2019); www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/measles.Google Scholar