Vaccination is probably one of the greatest advances in public health, saving innumerable lives and preventing much suffering. Vaccination against the measles virus is part of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, and nearly eliminated the disease from the United States. However, due to false reports of vaccines causing autism, many parents are refusing to vaccinate their children, allowing measles to make a comeback. Two studies have recently shown another lifesaving reason to vaccinate against measles: the infections can wipe out immunological memory.
After we recover from an infection, our immune systems develop memory, which allows us to respond better the next time we encounter that infection. We have taken advantage of this by creating vaccines, which form the immunologic memory without us having to get sick first.