Secondary failure rates of measles vaccines: A metaanalysis of published studies

Jennifer F. Anders, Robert M. Jacobson, Gregory A. Poland, Steven J. Jacobsen, Peter C. Wollan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Background. Recent measles outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations have highlighted the role of vaccine failure as a barrier to the elimination of measles. We sought to estimate the rate of secondary failure (clinical measles after vaccine-induced seroconversion) of measles vaccines using metaanalysis. Methods. We identified 1411 studies of which 125 were relevant. From these we found 10 original studies of healthy subjects with sufficient details to calculate a pooled secondary failure rate. We performed a test for homogeneity before any pooling. Results. Although significant heterogeneity prevented their pooling as a single group, the studies fell into three homogeneous groups suitable for pooling. Group A studies used killed vaccine whereas the other two groups (Groups B and C) of studies used live vaccine. These latter groups differ in that the studies in Group B share higher failure rates and are difficult to interpret with respect to the lack of verification of vaccination, immunization before 12 months of age and a non- North American study site and vaccine manufacturer. Those studies in Group C, in which US subjects were older than 12 months at vaccination and received a live US-manufactured vaccine that was documented in a medical record, had a failure rate of 0 of 2031 with a 95% confidence interval of 0.0 to 0.147%. Conclusions. Although reports of measles related to secondary failure exist, studies that permit the calculation of the rate of secondary failure demonstrate that the rate appears to be <0.2%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-66
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 30 1996


  • Measles
  • immunization
  • metaanalysis
  • vaccine
  • vaccine failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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