Following is a short summary of a longer special report “What Is Going On With Measles? The Science and Politics of Eradicating Measles” that can be read on NVIC’s website here.
This year, the fear mongering about measles has reached epidemic proportions in America. A day doesn’t go by without media outlets publishing angry articles and editorials spewing hatred toward a tiny minority of parents with unvaccinated children, who are being blamed for measles outbreaks.1 2 3 The remedy is always a call to track down, persecute and punish any parent whose child is not vaccinated.4 5 6
Some state and federal lawmakers are reacting to the relentless fear mongering by proposing to severely restrict the medical vaccine exemption and eliminate all religious and conscientious belief exemptions in state vaccine laws.7 8 9 10 These exemptions, which help prevent vaccine injuries and deaths, also protect parental rights, civil liberties and the ethical principle of informed consent to medical risk taking.11
Government, WHO, Medical Trade, Pharma & Media Say MMR Vaccine Is Safe & Effective
The U.S. government, the World Health Organization, medical trade associations, the pharmaceutical industry and multi-national communications corporations all agree that the measles virus is extremely dangerous, the MMR vaccine is very safe and effective, and all children must get two doses of MMR vaccine to meet the goal of eradicating measles from the world by 2020.12 13 14 15
1962: “Moderate Severity and Low Fatality” But Let’s Eradicate It
In 1962, famous microbe hunters Drs. Alexander Langmuir and DA Henderson, who designed smallpox eradication campaigns, contemporaneously described measles as a “self-limiting infection of short duration, moderate severity and low fatality” that has “maintained a remarkably stable biological balance over the centuries.”16
Dr. Langmuir calmly observed that, “the decline in [measles] mortality demonstrates the degree to which we have adapted to this balance and have learned to live with this parasite.” But then, boldly, proudly and with absolute confidence, he proclaimed:
To those who ask me, “Why do you wish to eradicate measles, I reply with the same answer that Hillary used when asked why he wished to climb Mt. Everest. He said, “Because it is there.” To this may be added, “…. and it can be done.
Before Vaccine, Mothers Transferred Measles Antibodies to Fetus
At the time, doctors knew that women, who had recovered from wild type measles as children, passively transferred measles antibodies to a developing fetus when they were pregnant so newborns were protected from measles during the first year or more of life.17 18 Back then, most children did not get measles until they were between three and 10 years old and that gave them durable, long lasting immunity to the disease.19 20
The immune systems of infants do not function the same way as for older children and adults.21 From the very beginning, vaccine makers could not get the measles vaccine to override infants’ natural maternal measles antibodies that block the acquisition of vaccine strain antibodies.22 Today, because most women have been vaccinated as children, they don’t have the same kind of robust maternal measles antibodies to pass on to their newborns like mothers in past generations.
Today, most newborns are susceptible to measles infections from birth, when complications can be more severe.23 24 And adults, including pregnant women, today can also be more susceptible to measles infections if their vaccine acquired antibodies have waned and they are no longer protected.25
This taking away of measles maternal immunity from newborns was the first major alteration in the “remarkably stable biological balance” between the measles virus and humans that Dr. Langmuir and his colleagues described a year before measles vaccines were licensed and given to babies as young as nine months old.
The recommendation for the first dose of measles vaccine was raised to 12 months old in 1965. In 1976, the age had to be raised again to 15 months because the younger the infant, the less likely the measles vaccine will be effective.26
1973: Vaccinated Children Can Still Get Measles
In 1973, Dr. Stanley Plotkin warned that vaccinated children could still get measles and that “a history of previous vaccination cannot be assumed to exclude measles as the cause of an exanthum [rash], whether typical or atypical.” He said that, “about 5 percent of vacinees do not respond and presumably remain susceptible,” which he described as “primary vaccine failures.” Dr. Plotkin also said there was evidence that some previously vaccinated children exposed to wild type measles could “develop modified illness and a secondary type of antibody response,” which he described as “secondary vaccine failures.”27
In other words, vaccine makers and public health officials knew in 1973 that getting a dose of the live virus measles vaccine does not guarantee that a vaccinated person won’t get infected with wild type measles and they also were not sure about whether some vaccinated children could still transmit wild type measles to others.
2019: Measles Outbreaks in U.S. & World
In January 2019, the World Health Organization announced that “vaccine hesitancy” is one of the top ten global health threats.28 By March 2019, about 2,000 cases of measles had been reported in a European Union population of 512 million people.29 By mid-April, the World Health Organization reported a worldwide resurgence of measles with 112,000 cases reported in 170 countries, which WHO officials said reflected about 10 percent of all cases.30 31
By May 13, 2019, the CDC had confirmed 839 cases of measles in 23 states in a U.S. population of 328 million people.32
Unprecedented Response by Public Health Officials & Media
The government and media response to measles outbreaks has been both unprecedented and uniform.33 In Rockland County, New York instead of quarantining people infected with measles, government officials threatened parents of healthy unvaccinated children with fines and imprisonment if their children appeared in public spaces—the first time that has been done in American history.34 35 36 It wasn’t done for smallpox or polio. But it has been done for measles.
Unvaccinated children and adults living, working or visiting in neighborhoods with certain zip codes in Brooklyn have been threatened with steep fines if they are found to have been in contact with someone with measles.37 38 An entire cruise ship was quarantined for weeks because passengers had been exposed to a crewmember, who tested positive for measles.39
The response to measles outbreaks by public health officials and the media this year is so over-the-top, you would think the human race is hovering on the brink of extinction.40 41 42 43 A friend of a certain age who also had measles as a child, said the hysteria reminds her of an old government propaganda film from the 1940’s, “Reefer Madness,” where every person who smokes marijuana turns into a raving lunatic.44
But for post-baby boomer generations who cut their teeth on Zombie Apocalypse movies, the propaganda message of choice appears to be one that teaches people to be afraid, be very afraid of the unvaccinated, who are going to turn our planet into the Night of the Living Dead,45 46 47 48 and should be publicly identified, shamed, hunted down and—what?
Taking a look at the science is useful to get a grip on an over-publicized fear campaign that is turning Americans against each other: parents against parents, doctors against patients, sons against mothers, friends against friends.49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 It is a shameful display of ignorance, prejudice and discrimination being promoted by individuals in academia, the medical community, public health and journalism and it should not be happening in a society that has historically valued equality and freedom of thought, speech, and conscience.57 58 59 60 61
What the Science Says About Measles and Vaccine Failures
Here is what scientists have been saying recently about what they do and don’t know about measles and measles vaccine failures:
From the Vaccine Research Group at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic:
- “While the current vaccine used in the USA and many other countries is safe and effective, paradoxically in the unique case of measles, it appears to insufficiently induce herd immunity in the population;”62
- Even with two doses of MMR vaccine, an individual can fail to either mount or sustain a protective immune response. Up to 10 percent of those given two doses “fail to develop protective humoral immunity and those antibody levels wane over time, which can result in infection;”63
- Individuals respond differently to vaccination and each individual’s genes play a role in controlling measles vaccine-induced immune responses. Scientists still do not completely understand “how the immune response is generated” or “how host genetic and epigenetic variations change and impact vaccine immune responses,” or “how pathogens interact with the immune system.”64
- “The importance of cellular immunity to vaccine-induced protection is not completely understood.” Some children with no detectible measles antibodies may still be protected against measles, which supports the “involvement of cellular immunity.”65
- Scientists do not have “a detailed understanding of the pathogenesis of the measles virus” or of vaccine-induced innate and adaptive (humoral) immunity. Better correlates of protection “that go beyond measuring antibody titers” are needed. There is not enough information about what drives a vaccine response, a vaccine non-response, adverse events following vaccination and the many complex interactions between immune function-related components.66
- Genetic ancestry is a significant determinant of vaccine responses. In one cohort study, Caucasians and most Hispanics, ethnic groups, which represent nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population, showed significantly lower humoral and cellular responses to MMR vaccination than African Americans.67
From microbiologists at the College Medical Sciences in India:
- “The measles virus (MeV) is serologically monotypic but genotyping confirms eight clades (A-H). The clades are further subdivided into 23 genotypes….Although sera from vaccinated individuals neutralize all the clades, the efficacy varies from clade to clade. It may be said that the level of protection offered by this vaccine varies from genotype to genotype.”68
- “The present vaccine does not offer complete protection assurance and the limitations are evident now. Newer strains show epitopes that are not shared by vaccine strains. Variations in the efficacy of neutralization in the vaccinated individuals against wild MeV has been reported.”69
Just out of Australia, scientists reported in May 2019 that there is evidence for “waning measles immunity among vaccinated individuals” that is “associated with secondary vaccine failure and modified clinical illness” with “transmission potential.”70
This finding confirms the scientific evidence coming from Berlin, Germany in April that:71
Although measles cases have gradually declined globally since the 1980s together with an increase in vaccination coverage, there has been a resurgence of measles in the European Union and European Economic Area starting in 2017 with adults aged over 20 years comprising more than a third of all cases.
The impact of waning immunity to measles will likely become more apparent over the coming years and may increase in the future, as the vaccinated population (with hardly any exposure to measles) will grow older and the time since vaccination increases. It is worth noting that the median age of measles cases has been increasing over the past 15 years in Berlin and the extent of waning immunity may increase further. Vaccinated cases have a lower viraemia and have rarely been observed to contribute to transmission. However, with the vaccinated population turning older and titres possibly decreasing further, this observation has to be re-evaluated.
There are unanswered questions that need to be answered, such as:
- How many unvaccinated children are being diagnosed with measles because they are fully expressing symptoms and are more easily identified and reported, while vaccinated children and adults are being asymptomatically infected or are only experiencing mild symptoms that are never identified or reported?
- And how will waning vaccine immunity and the emergence of new measles strains impact the lives of pregnant women and their newborn infants, who no longer have measles maternal antibodies, and the immune-compromised, who have been told that forcing everyone else to get vaccinated will create herd immunity and protect them?
1984 Prediction: More Measles After Vaccination Campaign
In 1984, an article was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The author made a prediction of what the impact of giving all children measles vaccine would have by the year 2050 in the U.S.72 A computer model simulation revealed that during the prevaccine era, approximately 10.6 percent of the population was susceptible to measles, most being children under 10 years old. After the institution of the measles vaccine program, the proportion of susceptibles fell to 3.1 percent from 1978 to 1981 but then began to incrementally rise every year.
The prediction was that, by the year 2050, about 10.9 percent of the population would be susceptible to measles and, instead of measles primarily infecting children under age 10, the cases would be distributed evenly among all age groups. The conclusion was that measles elimination in the U.S. being achieved in the late 20th century was a combination of vaccinating young susceptibles combined with the presence of a highly immune adult population that had natural immunity. However, there was a prophetic warning about measles for those living in 21st century America:
Despite short-term success in eliminating the disease, long range projections demonstrate that the proportion of susceptibles in the year 2050 may be greater than in the prevaccine era.73
Scapegoating Parents to Explain Failed Measles Eradication Program
As the 72 million adults of the baby boomer generation come to the end of their lives,74 75 the last generation with robust natural measles immunity from childhood, which has greatly contributed to herd immunity in this population—it is long past time for public health officials to reevaluate what they are doing. Because, for more than 55 years, they have stubbornly ignored persistent signs that the hypothesis of the medical experiment they have been conducting was fundamentally flawed. Instead, their answer to measles outbreaks, always, has been to simplistically order children to get more MMR vaccine and to scapegoat parents of unvaccinated children for a problem parents did not create and do not own.76 77 78 79
Go to NVIC.org and read this report. Look at the references documenting the information. Share it with others. Educate your legislators.
Knowledge is power. Be the one who never has to say that you did not do today what you could have done to change tomorrow.
It’s your health, your family, your choice.
This article or commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers. The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.
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