June 2019    
  Need a boost?  
  UChicago infectious disease specialist discusses the measles menace.  
  The measles was considered eliminated from the United States in 2000, but there have been more than 1,000 domestic cases since the beginning of 2019. The virus is highly contagious; before immunizations were available, 75 percent of people exposed to measles contracted it. So why the decline in vaccination rates?  
  In addition to the spread of misinformation, "people don't appreciate the seriousness of measles," says Allison Bartlett, associate medical director of the Infection Control Program at Comer Children's Hospital. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, rash, and red eyes, or conjunctivitis. Serious cases can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, and death.  
  "Individually, vaccination is important to prevent infection and the complications," says Bartlett. "On a societal level, it's important to remember that infections like measles cannot be treated, but they can be prevented," especially through herd immunity, which helps protect vulnerable individuals who can't get vaccinated.  
  Wondering if you're as protected as you could be? Would a booster do you good? This flow chart might help you decide. For children under 18, please refer to the CDC childhood immunization schedule directly.  
  Take your best shot  
  Maurice Hilleman, father of modern vaccines, gets the biopic treatment in Hilleman: A Perilous Quest to Save the World's Children (2016).  
  Of the 14 vaccines routinely recommended for children, more than half were developed by one man: microbiologist Maurice Hilleman, PhD'44.  
  During his 60-year career, Hilleman invented or substantially improved more than 40 vaccines, including those for measles, mumps, and rubella, which he later combined into the MMR vaccine.  
  Over 90 percent of American children get the MMR vaccine, and it all started in 1963 when Hilleman's five-year-old daughter, Jeryl Lynn, woke him up in the middle of the night with the telltale sore throat and swollen face that signal the mumps. After he sent her back to bed, he drove to his lab for sample collection equipment, swabbed her throat, and went on to create a mumps vaccination. Among its first recipients was Jeryl Lynn's one-year-old sister, Kirsten.  
  The first measles vaccines went to market in 1963, one live attenuated (weakened) and one killed virus. The killed virus vaccine, administered from 1963 to 1967, was found ineffective. (If you received this vaccine, you should be revaccinated.) The live virus vaccine worked well but produced intense side effects. Hilleman tweaked the strain, weakening it further to minimize the effects. Since 1968, his vaccine is the only one used in the United States.  
  Hilleman also developed vaccines for influenza, chicken pox, meningitis, and pneumonia, as well as hepatitis A and hepatitis B. At his death in 2005, his peers credited him with saving more lives than any other scientist of the 20th century.  
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