Measles vaccine nonsense

I was sent a link to a blog post, “This Mama Isn’t Scared of the Shmeasle Measles” by Megan Heimer.

I’ll run through the post in a minute, it contains a whole lot of nonsense. First, some links to reliable info:
CDC measles info
CDC Manual for Surveillance of VPD: Chapter 7: Measles
Measles week posts by an immunologist

Now, on to the post…

“(Sh)measles Inconsistencies
According to the CDC’s most recent Morbidity and Mortality Report (MMWR) measles is a “highly contagious, acute viral illness that can lead to serious complications and death.” Of course, prior MMWR reports and the CDC’s manual of surveillance leave out that last part; but since we’re trying to scare people into vaccinating their children, this 2014 gem of a report decided to adopt a global view and kick the emotions up a notch to let you know what’s at stake…death.”

Starts off with conspiracy mongering, not good. Measles does kill in about 25 in 100,000 cases in the Western world, in the third world it is closer to 1000 in 100,000. It rarely kills kids in the US anymore, because vaccination keeps the disease rare, only a few cases a year.

Complications are more common, about 1 in 10 cases. About 1 in 20 people with measles have more serious complications and needs to be hospitalized.

“More than 95% of measles deaths occur in countries with low per capita incomes and weak
health infrastructures.”

I hate to point out the obvious here, but we do not live in a third world country.”

This is rich. “Weak health infrastructures” means most prominently, kids are not vaccinated! See above for US stats.

“So far, in 2014 there have been 288 cases of measles, no cases of encephalitis, and no death. In 2013 there were 189 cases of measles, no encephalitis and no death. In 2012 there were 54 cases of measles, no encephalitis, and no death. In 2011, there were 22 cases of measles, and you guessed it…no encephalitis, and no death. I could go on, but you get the point. By and large, measles is unpleasant, not deadly.”

By and large measles is rare due to vaccination, but coming back now that anti-vac is popular. And when vaccinated kids come down with measles, the cases tend to be mild. Measles encephalitis is one of the most serious complications (often permanent brain damage), and occurs in about 1:1000 cases in Western countries.

“As of March 1, 2012 there were 842 serious injuries following the MMR vaccine and 56 deaths. Since 1990 there have been more than 6,058 serious adverse events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). What’s even more sad is that only 1-10% of cases are actually reported on this database. Oh now I remember, statistics are only important as it relates to measles cases…not MMR adverse reactions. And of course, the global MMR death statistics aren’t important either.”

This is comparison is wrong–the author is either ignorant or dishonest. VAERS was set up for two reasons, 1) to try to find out if vaccines cause exceeding rare side effects, and 2) to compensate kids who get sick rather than having them sue, wait years, and then usually get nothing.

Rarely, kids get seriously sick out of the blue and no one knows why. A couple of these cases may be due to vaccines, maybe not. Congress set up the VAERS and the compensation program as a practical response–kids are sick, they have bills and need health care, so compensate them rather than having fights in court. As a parallel purpose, the system is used to collect data to figure out why kids get sick, and if vaccines have anything to do with it.

So VAERS report *does*not*equal* vaccine-caused injury, and in fact usually does not.

“The CDC says that 5-10 percent of people vaccinated with MMR will develop a fever and rash. This means there are 650,000-1,300,000 cases of vaccine-induced measles in the U.S each year based off of the 13-14 million doses given to one-year-olds.”

This is not true. The measles component of MMR is a live attenuated vaccine. “Viruses are attenuated for such vaccines by culturing them in a non-human medium, in this case, chicken embryos. The virus essentially adapts to the non-human host and over time loses its adaptations to humans and so becomes less virulent.” That 5-10% *do not* get the measles and they never pass it on to others. They *do* get great protection against measles.

FYi, the US has a birthrate of 4 million a year, so figure 8 million doses of vaccine a year.

“But if my child gets measles…they could die. Given U.S statistics, they’re more likely to die from the MMR vaccine.”

This is an outright lie. Both in the short term (this year 0 kids will die of measles and 0 will die of the MMR vaccine), and in the long term (if anti-vac became common, the US will head back up to the pre-vaccine rate of 1,000 deaths from measles a year, 10X that of permanently injured).

“But the measles vaccine has prevented so many deaths. Wrong. Read the chapter on measles from this book.”

Incorrect. Nutrition and modern medicine pushed the death rate from measles from 1 in 100 kids (1000 in 100,000) to 1 in 4,000 (25 in 100,000). Permanent injury rate is much higher.

“Unvaccinated people put themselves and others at risk — particularly infants too young to be
vaccinated, who can have the most severe complications.” – Anne Schuchat, MD

Absolutely not true. What puts our babies at risk is the waning immunity that comes from a highly vaccinated population. You know what would give your baby a good dose of protection for the first year of their life? You guessed it, a mother whose been exposed to wild measles who then passes on these antibodies to protect her baby for the first year of life. Actually, medical literature suggests this protection could last up to 10 years. Imagine that.”

Megan Heimer is all confused–“a mother whose been exposed to wild measles” is what happened before the vaccine when nearly every kid got measles, and 1,000 kids a year died. True, when everyone is vaccinated, fewer antibodies are passed along in mother’s milk, but this is part of a world where your kid doesn’t get measles–a good thing. The protection from the mother was ineffective–nearly all kids used to get measles.

“The reason children in third world countries die from measles is because they are malnourished or have impaired cellular immunity and cannot neutralize the virus (via a rash), because they are vitamin A deficient (which according to the WHO can reduce the number of deaths from measles by 50%).”

Again, untrue. Poor nutrition, poor medical care, and other Third World conditions make measles more deadly, but even in the US, in the 1950s before the vaccine, 25 in 100,000 kids died every year (1,000 kids a year with the US population today).

“Of course, we only associate the MMR vaccine with autism. The big argument is that (a) MMR isn’t associated with autism, and (b) it could be, but the deadly threat of measles is more dangerous than a lifetime of autism.”

MMR does not cause autism. Not a chance at all, it has been studied exhaustively.

“This mama isn’t scared of the shmeasle measles.”

Megan Heimer is a fool and a parasite. Her kid is protected by other kids getting vaccinated, and only so long as no one listens to cranks like her and follows her lead. If her kid does encounter someone with measles, the kid will likely get the measles and spread it around the community.

Final notes: Vaccines delayed or not given increase the risk of disease, and puts a child in some danger. If anti-vac catches on, the childhood disease epidemics come back–massive disease and death every year. Only smallpox is gone for good. The rest are held at bay by the vaccination program and constant public health surveillance.

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