The consequences of a fall in the vaccination rate can lie dormant for years. It has taken 20 years for Japan to feel the implications of dropping the measles, mumps and rubella shot.
The virtual elimination of rubella is one of the many great vaccine success stories. Since the last big outbreak in the mid-1960s, vaccinations have ended endemic rubella transmission in the U.S. But Japan is now feeling the effect of its poor inoculation record.
Health officials have long feared that vaccine skepticism will push down immunization rates and threaten herd immunity. Lack of trust in vaccines was blamed, in part, for the resurgence of polio in Nigeria. Now it seems to be causing problems in the West too.
The Serum Institute of India will donate 20 million doses of measles-rubella vaccine to the GAVI Alliance as part of that organization's initiative to reduce the mortality rate caused by measles-rubella in the developing world.