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What is Measles Vaccine?

Measles Rubeola

Measles vaccine is a weakened (attenuated) form of the live measles virus. Currently, there are 2 available vaccines for use in the U.S. Merck's MMRII, which contains Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine, Live and Merck's Proquad, which contains Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella, Live. (The third measles vaccine, Merck’s Attenuvax, contains measles only; however, Merck has discontinued production of this vaccine, so new batches of it will not be available, even though it’s approved.)1,2,3, 4

Merck’s MMRII , is licensed and recommended for individuals aged 12 months or older. It is a live attenuated virus vaccine propagated in chick embryo cells and cultured with Jeryl Lynn live attenuated virus mumps and Meruvax II, a live attenuated virus vaccine propagated in WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts. 5 The WI-38 human diploid cell line was derived from the lung tissue of a three month human female embryo. The growth medium used was salt solution and 10 percent calf (bovine) serum. 6

Merck's ProQuad , is licensed and recommended for individuals aged 12 months to 12 years of age. ProQuad (Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella Virus Vaccine Live) is a combined, attenuated, live virus vaccine containing measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella viruses. ProQuad is a sterile lyophilized preparation of the components of M-M-R II (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Virus Vaccine Live): Measles Virus Vaccine Live, and Varicella Virus Vaccine Live (Oka/Merck), the Oka/Merck strain of varicella-zoster virus propagated in MRC-5 cells. MRC-5 cells are derived from a cell line that was developed in 1966 from lung tissue taken from a 14 week aborted fetus and contains viral antigens.7

The growth medium for measles and mumps for both MMRII and ProQuad are a buffered salt solution containing vitamins and amino acids and supplemented with fetal bovine serum containing sucrose, phosphate, glutamate, and recombinant human albumin, and neomycin. The growth medium for rubella is a buffered salt solution containing vitamins and amino acids and supplemented with fetal bovine serum containing recombinant human albumin and neomycin. Sorbitol and hydrolyzed gelatin stabilizer are added to the individual virus harvests. In the ProQuad Vaccine, the Oka/Merck strain of the live attenuated varicella virus, initially obtained from a child with wild-type varicella, then introduced into human embryonic lung cell cultures, adapted to and propagated in embryonic guinea pig cell cultures and finally propagated in human diploid cell cultures (WI-38) is added to the MMRII component.

According to Merck, both MMRII and ProQuad vaccines are screened for adventitious agents. Each dose of MMRII contains sorbitol, sodium phosphate, sucrose, sodium chloride, hydrolyzed gelatin, recombinant human albumin, fetal bovine serum, other buffer and media ingredients and neomycin. Each dose of ProQuad contains sucrose, hydrolyzed gelatin, sorbitol, MSG, sodium phosphate, human albumin, sodium bicarbonate, potassium phosphate and chloride, neomycin, bovine calf serum, chick embryo cell culture, WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts and MRC-5 cells. 8,9

The CDC recommends that children get two doses of the MMR vaccine with the first dose given between ages 12-15 months, and the second dose given between ages 4-6 years.10CDC recommendations state that persons age 18 or older, who were born in 1957 or later, should get at least one dose of MMR if there is no laboratory evidence of naturally acquired measles immunity or documentation that a measles vaccine was given on or after the first birthday.

Healthcare workers and students entering college or other post-high school educational institutions, as well as international travelers, are told to get two doses of measles vaccine if they have not been vaccinated previously. According to the manufacturer, MMR should be given one month before or one month after any other live viral vaccines.11, 12

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about measles and the measles vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

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2 CDC.gov. Vaccines. Measles. Current Vaccine Shortages. Feb. 21, 2012. Online. (Accessed March 2012)

3 FDA.gov. Vaccines, Blood & Biologicals. Measles, Mumps and Rubella . Aug. 8, 2011. Online. (Accessed March 2012)

4 FDA.gov. ProQuad. Product Information Sheet. Oct. 27, 2015. Online (Accessed March 2016)

5 FDA.gov. MMRII. Product Information Sheet . Dec. 2007. Online. (Accessed March 2012)

6 ViroMed.com. Selected Profiles of Cell Cultures: WI-38 (Lung, Diploid, Human). No Date. Online. (Accessed March 2012)

7 FDA.gov. ProQuad. Product Information Sheet. Oct. 27, 2015. Online. (Accessed March 2016)

8 FDA.gov. MMRII. Product Information Insert . Dec. 2007. Online. (Accessed March 2012)

9 CDC.gov. Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary . The Pink Book. Feb. 2015. Online. (Accessed March 2016)

10 CDC.gov. Vaccines. Recommended Immunization Schedule for persons aged 0 through 6 years . Dec. 23, 2011. Online. (Accessed March 2012)

11 Immunize.org. Summary of Recommendations for Adult Immunization. Jan. 2012. Online. (Accessed March 2012)

12 FDA.gov. MMRII. Product Information Insert . Dec. 2007. Online. (Accessed March 2012)

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