Background: The persistence of antibodies against measles, mumps, and rubella induced by the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and the kinetics of antibody decline after the second MMR vaccine dose were studied in the same cohort for 20 years.
Methods: Measles, mumps, and rubella antibodies were measured by enzyme immunoassay in 20-year follow-up serum samples (n= 183) of twice-vaccinated individuals, and measles antibodies were also measured in oral fluids (n = 177). Antibody decay was determined in a group (n = 58) with subsequent samples collected 1, 8, and 15 years after the second MMR dose.
Results: In total, 95%, 74%, and 100% of 183 vaccinees were still seropositive for measles, mumps, and rubella, respectively, and 85% of 177 vaccinees had measurable measles antibodies in their oral fluids. The antibody levels declined significantly after the second dose, but subsequently the rate of decline was slower.
Conclusions: A high rate of seropositivity was found 20 years after the first MMR dose, particularly for rubella and measles. Our results show that MMR vaccine-induced antibodies wane significantly after the second dose. According to epidemiological data, the protection induced by MMR vaccination in Finland seems to persist at least until early adulthood. However, the situation requires constant vigilance.