Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 34–43

Effectiveness assessment of vaccination policy against measles epidemic in Japan using an age–time two-dimensional mathematical model

Regular Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12199-011-0217-y

Cite this article as:
Maitani, Y. & Ishikawa, H. Environ Health Prev Med (2012) 17: 34. doi:10.1007/s12199-011-0217-y



In 2007, measles prevailed among the youth and young adult population in Japan, creating in a serious social problem. Among the developed countries, Japan has a relatively high incidence of measles. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of improvements in the vaccination policy against measles through simulations.


We developed an age–time two-dimensional model for the transmission of measles to reflect an age structure, enabling contact rate to be selected by age. Introduction of the maternal immunity class into the model allowed natural infection and vaccination to be discriminated along the course of an infant’s mother acquiring the immunity, thereby resulting in an improved accuracy of the simulations in infants. Several vaccination scenarios were attempted in order to assess the influence of various vaccination policies on the prevention of a measles epidemic.


The results of this quantitative study indicated that suppression of a measles outbreak requires the maintenance of high vaccine coverage and that a decline in vaccine coverage may result in a measles epidemic.


The present standard immunization program for measles will maintain an acceptable level of immunity and is therefore associated with a low risk of an epidemic after discontinuation of the third and fourth stages as scheduled—as long as at least 90% vaccine coverage of the first and second is maintained. The simulation results show that discontinuation of the third and fourth stages of vaccination as scheduled should be accompanied by endeavors to maintain appropriate high vaccine coverage of the first and second stages.


MeaslesVaccination coverageRoutine immunization programAge–time modelMaternal immunity

Copyright information

© The Japanese Society for Hygiene 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Ecology, Graduate School of Environmental ScienceOkayama UniversityOkayamaJapan