Effectiveness of third MMR vaccine uncertain

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COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri is recommending that students get a third Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine because of the mumps outbreak on campus, but it is not clear exactly how effective the third vaccine will be.

"There is some information to say that there is protective value, but there hasn’t been a definitive scientific study to tell us how much so," Dr. Michael Cooperstock said. "That’s part of the reason why it’s a recommendation but not considered mandatory. There’s a pretty good chance that you would get additional protection though from that third immunization.”

All of the students who have gotten the mumps at the University of Missouri have already received two MMR vaccines.

“We know that many vaccines are not 100 percent protective. There are some that are and some that are not. This happens to be one of the ones that isn’t," Cooperstock said. Cooperstock is the chief of the section of pediatric infectious diseases at the MU Children's Hospital.

"Even with two vaccines, still about 20 percent or so of people are still susceptible," Cooperstock said. "We think that they’re likely to get less serious illness if they get it, so there’s still some protection, probably, from the two that they’ve had."

The University of Missouri is not requiring that students get a third MMR vaccine, but MU News Bureau Director Christian Basi said recommending the third vaccine is a way for MU to be proactive about the spread of mumps. 

“Back in December, we had a discussion with them and decided to go ahead and recommend the third vaccine,” Basi said. “We have had reports of close to about 2,500 students who have gotten a third dose of the vaccine while they were on break.”

Basi said about 500 of those students got vaccinated at the MU Student Health Center. 

There are about 50 students at MU who do not have the MMR vaccine because they have a waiver. 

"None of those 50 students, to our knowledge, have contracted the disease," Basi said.

In total, the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services has identified about 370 cases of mumps between Aug. 22, 2016 and Feb. 7, 2017. 334 of those cases were MU students.

MU students will have access to a third dosage of the MMR vaccine for free.

“The state is providing about 2,000 doses of the vaccine for free. And so we’re hoping that we can immunize that many students,” Basi said.

The vaccines will be available Feb. 15-17 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on the second floor of Memorial Union's north tower on the MU campus.

 

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