Background: In 1989 a second dose of measles vaccine was recommended for US children to prevent school outbreaks of measles. Coverage of school age children with a second dose remains incomplete, and data on the effectiveness of this recommendation are limited. We investigated a measles outbreak in Mesa County, CO, in December, 1994, and evaluated the efficacy of preoutbreak immunizations at an elementary school (School A) where many students had received two doses.
Methods: All reported suspected cases of measles were investigated; cases that met a clinical case definition were tested by a measles IgM antibody assay. A confirmed case required laboratory confirmation or had to meet the clinical case definition and be epidemiologically linked to a confirmed case. Vaccination records of students at School A were reviewed. The effectiveness of one and two doses of measles vaccine was estimated using logistic regression.
Results: Sixty-two confirmed cases were reported, including 17 at School A. At School A the attack rate in unvaccinated children (7 of 16, 44%) was higher than in those with 1 dose (10 of 320, 3%) or 2 doses (0 of 289, 0%). Estimated vaccine effectiveness was 92% for 1 dose and 100% for 2 doses. Two doses were better than one dose in decreasing the likelihood of acquiring measles (P = 0.003).
Conclusions: The lower attack rate among two dose recipients provides evidence that a two dose strategy can help prevent measles in schools. Administering the second dose at elementary school entry can help prevent the persistence of susceptible cohorts of children and is likely to be important in sustaining elimination of indigenous transmission of measles in the United States.