The Measly Measles

I’ve been getting more and more subscribers to my blog so am feeling the pressure to write another post! These posts do take a lot of time as I am meticulous in backing up what I say with legitimate sources. I hope that it helps someone, somewhere!

Before I get into specifics with the measles, I want to point out the inadequate reporting of the measles outbreaks in the media. Many headlines for these outbreaks include the terms “unvaccinated” or “anti-vaccine movement”, indirectly or often blatantly placing blame for these outbreaks on the unvaccinated. What they choose not to tell us, however, is that the majority of those involved in said outbreaks are already vaccinated. The recent outbreak in New York, for example, 18 of the 20 people infected with the measles virus were already vaccinated. You don’t have to be too keen to gather that this may be more of a poor reflection on the efficacy of the measles vaccine than it is of the unvaccinated.

The Measles: Defined

According to the World Health Organization, “Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.

There is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within 2–3 weeks. However, particularly in malnourished children and people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea, ear infection and pneumonia. Measles can be prevented by immunization.”

Measles can be and is deadly in malnourished populations. However in the US, the last (single) death as a result of the measles occurred in 2003. The incidence of measles deaths dramatically decreased before the introduction of the vaccine in the 1960s, as hygiene, nutrition, and the practice of medicine improved. Despite what many think and what the media has portrayed as of late, vaccination rates in the US and Canada for the measles have not changed since the 1990s, and there are cases of measles reported every year, so the measles are not making a comeback, they have never gone away!

The MMR Vaccine

The ingredients of the MMR vaccine, in addition to the measles, mumps, and rubella viruses, include sodium chloride, hydrolyzed gelatin, recombinant human albumin (from aborted fetuses), fetal bovine serum (the blood plasma of a cow fetus), and neomycin (an antibiotic). The MMRV vaccine, which also includes the Varicella virus, includes many more ingredients.

Listed in the manufacturer’s package insert for the MMR vaccine are precautions and warning for consumers, including that “M-M-R II has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or potential to impair fertility”.

Listed adverse reactions include: Diabetes Mellitus, Thrombocytopenia, Arthritis, Encephalitis, Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), afebrile convulsions or seizures, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). Pneumonia, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, Nerve deafness, plus many more. Doctors and the media like to tell us that these adverse reactions are very rare and they never happen, and they are nothing to fear. This is simply not true. Adverse reaction can and do happen.

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is co-funded by the CDC and FDA, has received as of July 9, 2012, 6,058 serious adverse events reports since 1990. 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. Billions of dollars have been awarded to families who have suffered vaccine injuries.

Risk versus Benefit

If the MMR vaccine carried no risk, I do not doubt that many skeptical parents would not hesitate to vaccinate their children. However, it does carry risk and potential harm, and still does not guarantee that the recipient of the vaccine will be protected from disease. The chances of the measles doing permanent damage to a healthy child seem much lower than the potential damage that the MMR or MMRV vaccines can do. This is the conclusion that I have reached along with many other parents who are opting out of this vaccine. If a parent chooses to vaccinate for the measles then they have reached a different conclusion. Both choices deserve respect and the major onslaught in the media lately is unnecessary and damaging as it sets parents against each other based on their informed decisions.

Final Thoughts

An argument that I often hear is that one doesn’t want to be responsible for passing disease onto the vulnerable such as infants too young to be vaccinated or pregnant women. First of all, I have no interest in potentially sacrificing the health of my child for “the greater good“. Also, the antibodies in vaccines only last from 7-10 years, so the majority of adults are unvaccinated. Herd immunity is nearly impossible, unless every single person has their antibody titres checked and receive boosters throughout their lives. Even then, vaccinated individuals still become infected. If one is informed about the risks and benefits of both the measles and the MMR(v) vaccine they are able to make an informed decision. To become convinced that either side are making a doomed decision based on what the media tells us is just plain dumb.

There is so much to cover when talking about vaccines, but I have tried to give the simple and sweet in this post. Mumps and Rubella are even milder childhood illnesses that I will discuss in a future post.

More information on the measles and the vaccine can be found here

Still fear the measles? Read this

1 Comment

  1. Peter says:

    For me the ultimate point agains vaccination is that it causes the virus to mutate into a much more virulent form. The virulent variation then threatens everybod, vaccinated and unvaciinated, although the latter are more safe, because their Immune systems have not been compromised.

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