a1 Centre for the Epidemiology of Infectious Disease, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS
a2 Immunisation Division, PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ
a3 Public Health Laboratory, Royal Preston Hospital, Sharoe Green Lane North, Preston PR2 4HG
Measles incidence in England and Wales has fallen to an all-time low. Attention is now focused on preventing local outbreaks, and, in the long run, on the elimination of indigenous measles. A realistic age-structured (RAS) mathematical model of measles transmission is used to reconstruct the impact of measles vaccination in England and Wales from 1968 to the present and to evaluate the merits of future policy options. In general, the predictions of the model show good agreement with long-term age stratified case reports and seroprevalence surveys. The model underestimates the proportion of cases that are notified in 0–2-year-old children. However, recent work suggests a high degree of misdiagnosis in this age group. Projections on the basis of the existing vaccination strategy in the UK suggest that the present level of measles vaccine coverage will be insufficient to eliminate small seasonal outbreaks of measles. This result is, however, sensitive to the assumed level of vaccine efficacy. Explorations of a variety of changes to current vaccination strategy favour a 2-dose schedule with the second dose administered at age 4 years irrespective of vaccination history. A vaccination campaign in school-age children, to reduce deficits in herd immunity, would accelerate progress towards measles elimination.
(Accepted October 30 1994)
c1 Author and address for correspondence.