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Some people ask if it's true that these days, most people who come down with a disease for which there's a vaccine (such as measles) have been vaccinated against it.
It's true, but that doesn't mean vaccines don't work. It just means they're not perfect.
In the rare case of an outbreak, a certain number of vaccinated people will get sick. And because there are so many more vaccinated than unvaccinated people in this country, the immunized people who get sick are likely to outnumber the ones who aren't immunized.
To see how this works, imagine that measles strikes a school of 1,000 students. Of the 995 who have been vaccinated, ten become infected, while all five of the unvaccinated children in the school get sick. So although more vaccinated students got measles, the chances of coming down with the disease were much lower for people who got the vaccine (about 1 percent) than for people who didn't (100 percent).
No vaccine guarantees immunity to everyone who's vaccinated. For reasons we don't understand, some people who are vaccinated don't become immune and remain susceptible to the disease. And some people lose their immunity over time, especially if they don't receive the recommended booster shots. But vaccination still offers the best chance of protection from infectious disease.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in July 1999 found that during a measles outbreak, unvaccinated people were 35 times more likely to get measles than vaccinated people. Several studies have since confirmed these findings.
Keep in mind, too, that people who come down with the disease after having been vaccinated will experience a milder form of the disease.