Stories about measles outbreaks in New York, California, and Texas have been in the news lately, complete with fear-inducing headlines and pro-vaccine propaganda.
Naturally, those who choose to opt out of vaccinations tend to be blamed for outbreaks.
Let’s start with some facts about measles:
- Measles (Rubeola) is a highly infectious respiratory disease spread by coughing, sneezing, or simply being in close contact with an infected person.
- The incubation period from initial exposure to onset of the signature rash is between 7 and 18 days, with an average of 14 days.
- Initial symptoms are typically a rising fever (which peaks around 103-105 degrees), cough, runny nose, red irritated eyes, and a sore throat with tiny white spots in the mouth. Those symptoms usually last about 2-4 days, and then the rash, which usually begins at the head and moves down the body, develops.
- Measles tends to be more severe in adults.
- Possible complications include bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death.
How many people die from measles or related complications each year?
The CDC reports that out of every 1,000 children who become infected with measles, one or two die. The disease is still rampant worldwide, with an estimated 20 million cases each year. About 164,000 measles-related deaths occur each year, with more than half of those in India.
Let’s break that down more – how many people in the United States die from measles each year?
Some statistics from the CDC on recent outbreaks in the US:
During January 1–August 24, 2013, a total of 159 cases were reported to CDC from 16 states and New York City. Among the 159 cases, 7 (11%) persons required hospitalization, including four patients diagnosed with pneumonia. No deaths were reported.
In 2011, a provisional total of 222 measles cases were reported from 31 states. Among the 70 (32%) measles patients who were hospitalized, 17 (24%) had diarrhea, 15 (21%) were dehydrated, and 12 (17%) had pneumonia. No cases of encephalitis and no deaths were reported.
Statistics for 2012 and 2010 are not currently available on the CDC website. If there were any measles outbreaks or related deaths during those years, it is safe to assume the information would be posted on the website.
Vaccine proponents will claim that the measles immunization is to thank for the lack of deaths from the disease in the United States. But is that accurate?
Dawn Babcock Papple crunched the numbers and analyzed the results in an article for VaxTruth:
Prior to the vaccine, 3-4 million cases of measles occured in the United States each year. <—True.
Also true, however, is that of those 3-4 million cases, only about 450 people died each year from it in the years before the vaccine.
I have figured out the percentage of people who died from measles of all of the measles cases back then. 0.015%. Suddenly, measles seems a little less scary doesn’t it?
Also, consider that in 1963, the population was 189,241,798. That means that prior to the vaccine, the percentage of the entire US population that died from measles was .000237%.
There are over 6 billion people on the planet. That’s shown as 6,000,000,000 numerically. Correct me if you disagree, but when over 150,000 people die each day total, is 540 people dying of measles each day really that outrageous? They’re counting on us not comprehending the vast population of our global society. 240,000 children in low income countries alone die each year of neonatal infection. 1.26 million people die each year from diabetes and yet they’re still pushing the high fructose corn syrup in school lunches.With vaccines, the US went from a .000237 PERCENT death rate among the general population from measles in 1963 to a 0.000000% measles death rate.
In 1963, there were about 450 deaths from measles.Meanwhile, about 12,000 people died from stomach ulcers and the likes. Just over 43,000 people died from car accidents in 1963. Over 700,000 people died from heart disease.
In 1963, you were more likely to be one of the 9200 people murdered that year than to die of measles. If you were born in 1963, you were more likely to die from a congenital disease than from measles. In 1963, it was about 46 times more likely for a child to die from a congenital malformation than for someone to die from the measles.
Frankly, in 1963, you were about 46 times more likely to kill yourself than you were to die from measles.
The Oxford Journal of Infectious Disease also pointed out that measles-related deaths were on the decline before the vaccine was available:
By the late 1950s, even before the introduction of measles vaccine, measles-related deaths and case fatality rates in the United States had decreased markedly, presumably as a result of improvement in health care and nutrition. From 1956 to 1960, an average of 450 measles-related deaths were reported each year (∼1 death/ 1000 reported cases), compared with an average of 5300 measles-related deaths during 1912–1916 (26 deaths/ 1000 reported cases).
Now, for some facts about the measles vaccine, from the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC):
- One measles containing vaccine is currently being used in the U.S. – a combination measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) live virus vaccine. The CDC recommends children get between 12 and 15 months of age with a second dose given between 4 and 6 years old.
- Common side effects from the MMR vaccine include low-grade fever, skin rash, itching, hives, swelling, reddening of skin, and weakness. Reported serious adverse reactions following MMR vaccination include seizures, brain inflammation and encephalopathy; thrombocytopenia; joint, muscle and nerve pain; gastrointestinal disorders; measles like rash; conjunctivitis and other serious health problems;
- As of March 1, 2012, there have been 898 claims filed in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) for injuries and deaths following MMR vaccination, including 56 deaths and 842 serious injuries.
- Using the MedAlerts search engine, as of July 9, 2012 there have been 6,058 serious adverse events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) in connection with measles vaccine since 1990, with over half of those occurring in children 3 and under.
I’m not a scientist, but I don’t think it takes an advanced degree to deduce that getting the measles vaccine just might be more dangerous than contracting the disease itself.
In fact, what was once a benign childhood disease might be a bigger problem BECAUSE the availability of the vaccine has become widespread, as Lawrence Solomon of Financial Post suggests:
In the pre-vaccine era, when the natural measles virus infected the entire population, measles — “typically a benign childhood disease,” as Clinical Pediatrics described it — was welcomed for providing lifetime immunity, thus avoiding dangerous adult infections. In today’s vaccine era, adults have accounted for one quarter to one half of measles cases; most of them involve pneumonia, one-quarter of them hospitalization.
Also importantly, measles during pregnancies have risen dangerously because expectant mothers no longer have lifetime immunity. Today’s vaccinated expectant mothers are at risk because the measles vaccine wanes with time and because it often fails to protect against measles.
Vaccinated mothers have little antibody to pass on — only about one-quarter as much as mothers protected by natural measles — leaving infants vulnerable three months after birth, according to a study last year in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The NVIC backs up Solomon’s points:
- Evidence has been published in the medical literature that vaccinated persons can get measles because either they do not respond to the vaccine or the vaccine’s efficacy wanes over time and vaccinated mothers do not transfer long lasting maternal antibodies to their infants to protect them in the first few months of life.
If you ask people who had measles as a child what the disease was like, they will likely tell you that it wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience, but they survived – and came out with lifelong, natural immunity. Kevin Brooker of the Calgary Herald wrote a piece about that very thing a few days ago, in which he recalled his experience with the disease:
Surely, I’m not the only oldtimer who finds it curious that cases of measles – even as few as one or two in a region – are now the stuff of news headlines. Has something changed about the disease that most of us got, then got over, then never thought about again? It would have been about 50 years ago, one year after the widespread introduction of the measles vaccine, that I walked into the kitchen, showed my mom my speckled belly, and said, “I think I have measles.”
Other than that, however, I don’t remember any details of my affliction, just that it came and went without much trauma.
And I certainly don’t remember my mother evincing any panic on that day of discovery. If measles has deadly properties, they were not part of the social dialogue back then. Mom did tell me one thing: “Well, once you get over it, you’ll never get it again.”
Despite all of these facts, the mainstream media continues to spin measles outbreaks into a “fringe parenting” issue, blaming the cases on “irresponsible, uneducated” people who opt out of vaccinations, but that’s hardly the truth:
According to a survey in Pediatrics, unvaccinated children in the U.S. have a mother who is at least 30 years old, who has at least one college degree and whose household has an annual income of at least $75,000. In the absence of studies showing vaccinated children to be healthier than those unvaccinated, the parents in these educated households have determined that the numbers argue against vaccination. (source)
A recent example of pro-vaccination media bias can be found in a recent Business Insider article, titled NYC Health Commissioner On Measles Outbreak: ‘We Must Continue To Remain Vigilant’.
The article begins with this:
The New York City Department of Health has confirmed two new cases of measles, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 26 — 12 children and 14 adults.
Later in the same article, the TWO unvaccinated children were mentioned:
If you’re current on your vaccinations, you’re in the clear. At least two of the infected children were purposely unvaccinated; most of the rest were too young to be fully vaccinated against measles.
What about the 14 adults who were infected? The article does not state the vaccination status of those individuals, who represented more than half of those infected. And how many does “most” mean? The author states “most of the rest were too young to be fully vaccinated.” According to one report, only four of the children were too young to have received both shots. That leaves us with 6 children who presumably were fully vaccinated, yet still contracted the disease.
Measles is considered ‘highly contagious,’ usually spread by coughing or sneezing — and people are contagious even before the telltale rash shows up. ‘If one person has it, 90% of that person’s close contacts will also become infected,’ the NYC Department of Health warns.
90%? Does that include those who were “properly” vaccinated? The article doesn’t clarify.
Perhaps the author is unaware of the source of an outbreak that occurred in New York in 2011.
Suspected patients and contacts exposed during a measles outbreak in New York City in 2011 were investigated. The index patient had 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine; of 88 contacts, 4 secondary patients were confirmed who had either 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine or a past positive measles IgG antibody.
This is the first report of measles transmission from a twice-vaccinated individual with documented secondary vaccine failure. (source)
Sort of puts a dent in the claim “If you’re current on your vaccinations, you’re in the clear,” doesn’t it?
And what about cases of outbreaks in which almost everyone who contracted the disease was fully vaccinated?
A study published in PubMed in 1987 covered a measles outbreak that occurred in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1985. The conclusion of that study:
We conclude that outbreaks of measles can occur in secondary schools, even when more than 99 percent of the students have been vaccinated and more than 95 percent are immune.
The current outbreak in California has led to news articles about the “importance of vaccination.” Most of those stories include at least a brief suggestion that “unvaccinated” people are the cause of the outbreaks.
The article Who is Patient Zero? on OCWeekly.com discusses the current California outbreak, which, as of April 4, consisted of 49 confirmed cases. The author mentions that Orange County – with 21 cases – was hit the hardest. Of course, the fact that a few unvaccinated children were stricken ill had to be pointed out:
Of the OC five kids who came down with measles, none of them were vaccinated.
Then the other cases were casually mentioned:
The other 16 cases were adults, five of which are healthcare workers.
Were those adults vaccinated? Why wasn’t that information provided?
The article then reveals something quite significant, but it is only given this brief line and is not mentioned again:
State-wide, nearly half of this year’s measles cases are from unvaccinated children.
Notice the wording there? Why didn’t the author say “State-wide, nearly half of this year’s measles cases come from VACCINATED children?”
Pay close attention to what is being said, what is being omitted, and what is being twisted to suit a particular agenda in the mainstream media. The current anti-vaccination witch-hunt is a perfect example of the misleading, biased reporting that is rampant.