US may go for third vaccine dose after mumps cases hit 10-year high

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 February, 2017, 7:37am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 February, 2017, 7:38am

Federal health officials are evaluating the benefit of an additional dose of the mumps vaccine because of the increasing number of mumps outbreaks since 2006. More than 5,000 cases of the contagious viral illness were reported last year in the United States, the most in a decade.

Among the outbreaks in recent years, 19 occurred last year on college campuses. Arkansas has been battling an outbreak that began in one community last summer and has since infected 2,815 people, the largest recorded in that state.

Unlike outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, which have taken place in populations with significant numbers of unvaccinated people, the mumps outbreaks have been occurring in communities with high rates of immunisation and residents who often have received both recommended doses of the vaccine.

Federal officials said Thursday that they are looking into whether mumps immunity decreases over time and whether there would be benefits to a third dose. State and local health authorities are particularly interested in that additional shot as a preventive measure, Mona Marin told the Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices.

“Although the disease has not been serious, the disruption and expense it has caused for local and state health officials has been significant,” said Marin, a viral diseases expert with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Currently, the CDC recommends that children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine - for measles, mumps and rubella - with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at 4 to 6 years.

The mumps component of the MMR vaccine is about 88 per cent effective when a person gets two doses; one dose is about 78 per cent effective.