Merck bumps up production of MMR vaccine amid measles outbreak

By Maggie Lynch contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/manjurul)
(Image: Getty/manjurul)

Related tags: Vaccine, Merck, MSD, North america, Measles, outbreak

With the recent outbreak of measles in the US, the only MMR vaccine producer in the US, Merck, has increased its production to meet demand.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported 704 cases​ of measles in the US as of April 2019, with a 1.3% increase from the 695 reported the week before. According to the CDC, most cases are children who have not received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The vaccine is a weakened live virus that causes harmless infection in the vaccinated person.

A spokesperson for Merck, known as MSD outside of North America, told us that the company has taken steps to increase its US supply of its MMR-II vaccine so availability is maintained – though Merck clarified that demand has not ‘outstripped’ its underlying capacity.

Additionally, Merck reported that its US sales of MMR and chickenpox vaccines rose approximately 10% to $343m (€306.64m) in the first quarter, although Merck said that much of the increase in sales came from private clinics, which pay more than the government for vaccines rather than an increase in the volume of sales.

“We are always concerned when anyone becomes infected with a vaccine-preventable disease. The efficacy and safety of MMR-II has been well established over decades of use in hundreds of millions of people,”​ the spokesperson said.

They continued, “The current outbreak reinforces the importance of sustaining high enough coverage rates in communities to help prevent measles outbreaks.”

The CDC recommends children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine and states that two doses are 97% effective against preventing measles while a single shot is 93% effective.

It is also recommended that adults who received the vaccine decades ago may need an additional dose of the vaccine.

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