Watch what happens when vaccination rates are too low

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

November 28th, 2016

Editorial Team

If we want to rid Europe of measles, experts say 95% of people need to have two doses of the measles vaccine. But what if, say 80%, were vaccinated. That would be pretty good, right?

No! It turns out that, because measles is so infectious, we really need just about everyone to have the vaccine.

To help illustrate this, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh developed a new tool that simulates measles outbreaks.

Here is what happens when 95% of the population has had the measles vaccine.

And here’s how it looks when just 80% have been vaccinated.

You can check out what happens in a range of US cities in the event of a measles outbreak. (Click here to get started)

No European cities are featured but the principle is exactly the same. In fact, a new study has shown that the introduction of vaccination in the Netherlands contributed to an overall reduction in childhood mortality through the 20th century. 

These videos show the value of herd immunity. And, given that some people are too young or too sick to be vaccinated, it really means that all healthy people should ensure that they are protected against the virus. You are protecting yourself and your community.

Bonus material

The good people at Pitt Health also came up with this startling illustration of what happened after the measles vaccine was introduced in the United States in the 1960s.

As the public embraced the vaccine, the number of cases dropped dramatically before falling to zero.


The reappearance of measles in the US in recent years has been associated with the ongoing outbreaks in Europe. 

Read: Measles – Europe’s shameful export