An increasing, potentially measles-susceptible population over time after vaccination in Korea

Vaccine. 2017 Jul 24;35(33):4126-4132. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2017.06.058. Epub 2017 Jun 29.


Background: In Korea, measles occurs mainly in infants <12months of age, who are unvaccinated. In addition, vaccine populations, including adolescents and young adults, can become infected though importation. Thus, the question arises whether the current level of herd immunity in Korea is now insufficient for protecting against measles infection.

Methods: Age-specific measles seroprevalence was evaluated by performing enzyme immunoassays and plaque reduction-neutralization tests on 3050 subjects aged 0-50years (birth cohort 1964-2014) and 480 subjects aged 2-30years (birth cohort 1984-2012).

Results: The overall seropositivity and measles antibody concentrations were 71.5% and 1366mIU/mL, respectively. Progressive decline in antibody levels and seropositivity were observed over time after vaccination in infants, adolescents, and young adults. The accumulation of potentially susceptible individuals in the population was confirmed by comparing data from 2010 and 2014 seroprevalence surveys. The statistical correlation between measles incidence and measles seronegativity was determined.

Conclusions: Waning levels of measles antibodies with increasing time post-vaccination suggests that measles susceptibility is potentially increasing in Korea. This trend may be related to limitations of vaccine-induced immunity in the absence of natural boosting by the wild virus, compared to naturally acquired immunity triggered by measles infection. This study provides an important view into the current measles herd immunity in Korea.

Keywords: Measles; Neutralizing antibody; Seroprevalence; Waning immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Measles / immunology*
  • Measles / prevention & control*
  • Measles Vaccine / administration & dosage
  • Measles Vaccine / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Republic of Korea
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Viral Plaque Assay
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Measles Vaccine