Board Experts Leaders Careers Financial Information Impact News & Media

Global Problems Can be Solved


Video: Creator of the Measles Vaccine Describes Impact


Dr. Katz can count saving the lives of millions of children as one of his life’s accomplishments. He, along with Nobel Laureate John J. Enders, developed the measles vaccine now used throughout the world. 

When Dr. Katz began his medical career in the late 1950s, measles was a serious disease in the United States, infecting more than 500,000 children and killing an average of 400 children each year. 

The vaccine developed by Dr. Katz proved to be extremely effective and the number of children who got measles decreased. But, around the globe, children were not so lucky. At the time, the World Health Organization estimated that each year 6-8 million children around the world were dying from measles.

In this short video, Dr. Katz explains how he was introduced to the Measles Initiative—a partnership led by the American Red Cross, UNICEF, the United Nations Foundation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization—to reduce global measles deaths by 90 percent worldwide by 2010. 

“When the Measles Initiative began, I thought this is absolutely wonderful. I went to their first meetings and saw what they planned to do, and I was so exhilarated because I knew what a terrible toll that measles exacted on children around the globe.”

With an effective vaccine, the Measles Initiative has worked closely with country governments, local communities and other partners to reduce measles deaths by 68 percent worldwide and 91 percent in Africa (compared to 2000 rates). To date, more than 500 million children in nearly 70 countries have been immunized against measles with the vaccine Dr. Katz helped to create.

“The direction of energies from the groups to control and eliminate measles was to me, and still is, one of the remarkable achievements in child health of any century.”

Hear more from Dr. Katz himself as he explains the impact of the Measles Initiative and large-scale immunization campaigns.