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October 23, 1996

Questions Raised About Measles Vaccine Trial

JAMA. 1996;276(16):1288-1289. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540160010004

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FAILURE to fully explain the risks involved in a vaccine trial has undermined a well-intentioned effort to improve the immunogenic response to measles immunization in children younger than 12 years. In addition, because the participants in the study were primarily from minority groups, the episode carries racial and ethnic overtones.

The trial, which was conducted under a contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente of Southern California, started enrollment in May 1990. It compared a high-titer measles vaccine known as the Edmonston-Zagreb (EZ) strain with the measles vaccine currrently licensed in the United States, the Moraten strain. The objective was to determine if the high-titer vaccine would induce sufficiently protective levels of immunity in children younger than 1 year. The Moraten vaccine has reduced efficacy in inducing protective antibody in children that age.

Subject of Recent Discussion  The circumstances of the trial and the