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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Dec 15;90(24):11698-702.

Pulse mass measles vaccination across age cohorts.

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  • 1Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


Although vaccines against measles have been routinely applied over a quarter of a century, measles is still persistent in Israel, with major epidemics roughly every 5 years. Recent serological analyses have shown that only 85% of Israelis aged 18 years have anti-measles IgG antibodies. Considering the high transmissibility of the virus and the high level of herd immunity required for disease eradication, the Israeli vaccination policy against measles is now being reevaluated. Motivated by theoretical studies of populations in perturbed environments, we examined the possibility of replacing the conventional cohort vaccination strategy by a pulse strategy--i.e., periodic vaccination of several age cohorts at the same time. Numerical studies of a deterministic age-structured model suggest that vaccination, which renders immunity to no more than 85% of the susceptible children aged 1-7 years, once every 5 years will suffice to prevent epidemics in Israel, where infection rate is highest amongst schoolchildren. The model suggests that by using such a strategy the density of susceptible individuals is always kept below the threshold above which recurrent epidemics will be maintained. Analysis of simpler, non-age-structured, models serves to clarify the basic properties of the proposed strategy. Our theoretical results indicate that the advantages and disadvantages of a pulse strategy should be seriously examined in Israel and in countries with similar patterns of measles virus transmission.

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