Is Measles Dangerous If You Are Pregnant?

While folks often try and make it seem like measles is a common childhood illness, we know that it can be dangerous.

“One of the patients was a 20-year-old pregnant woman who had rash onset on January 5 following exposure to her 12-year-old brother. After delivering a healthy baby on January 6, the mother developed severe pneumonia that was followed by respiratory arrest. She was resuscitated and transferred to an intensive care unit in a larger hospital nearby in Tennessee.”

Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Transmission of Measles Across State Lines — Kentucky, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Virginia

Rarely do people who have really had measles describe it as just a fever and a rash. They remember that it was called a harmless killer for a reason.

Is Measles Dangerous If You Are Pregnant?

And there are some situations in which measles can be especially dangerous, including if you get sick when you are very young, very old, or have immune system problems.

Pregnant women should be screened for measles immunity.
Pregnant women should be screened for measles immunity.

And what if you are pregnant when you get measles?

“The Health Department announced today that the number of measles cases has grown to 390, including two pregnant women diagnosed with the infection, one diagnosed in mid-April.”

The Number of Measles Cases Grows to 390

If you are pregnant and you are exposed to someone with measles, you can get IVIG post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent you from actually getting measles, but this typically only works if given within six days of the exposure.

“To date, studies have not identified an increased risk for birth defects when pregnant women get the measles during pregnancy. However, studies suggest that measles infection is associated with an increased risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity and the baby being born with a measles infection.”

When Measles Strike, It’s Not The Happiest Place On Earth For Pregnant Women

Unlike a rubella infection during pregnancy, a measles infection is not thought to cause birth defects. Tragically, it can, like rubella, lead to an increased risk for having a miscarriage.

“Infants who develop congenital measles are at increased risk for mortality and for subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, which is more common when measles is diagnosed in infancy. In addition, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis in newborns infected with measles either congenitally or shortly after birth appears to be more severe, with a shorter latency and rapidly progressive course.”

What Obstetric Health Care Providers Need to Know About Measles and Pregnancy

And if the mother gets measles very late in her pregnancy, it can also lead to a case of congenital measles, or a baby being born with an active measles infection.

“In 52% of cases, measles was likely acquired from a relative. Complications included pneumonia in one child; two pregnant women required hospitalization, including one who miscarried.”

Notes from the Field: Measles Outbreak Among Members of a Religious Community — Brooklyn, New York, March–June 2013

Don’t take the risk that you might get measles while you are pregnant.

Make sure you are vaccinated and protected before you ever start thinking about getting pregnant, as pregnancy is a contraindication to getting the MMR vaccine. And you should wait at least 4 weeks after getting vaccinated before getting pregnant.

More on Measles in Pregnancy

Too Many Too Soon Revisited

You know how anti-vaccine folks like to say that kids get too many vaccines at too early an age these days?

Four generations of vaccines or vaccine misinformation?
Four generations of vaccines or vaccine misinformation?

It’s not like the ‘good old days,’ when instead of more vaccines, they just got more diseases.

But looking at the immunization schedules from the 1950s and 1960s, you should know that folks back then got a lot more vaccine doses than you have been led to believe.

Too Many Too Soon Revisited

And you know what else? Those vaccines include the “crude brew” of DPT and smallpox, which contained far more antigens per vaccine than today’s vaccines.

The 1951 immunization schedule published by the AAP.
The 1951 immunization schedule published by the AAP.

By six months, these kids got the smallpox vaccine (200 antigens) and three doses of DPT (3,002 antigens), for a total of 9,206 antigens.

And today?

They could get up to about 174 antigens, including

  • DTaP: 7 antigens * 3 doses = 21 antigens
  • IPV: 15 antigens * 3 doses = 45 antigens
  • Hib: 2 antigens * 3 doses = 6 antigens
  • Prevnar13: 14 antigens * 3 doses = 42 antigens
  • hepatitis B: 1 antigen * 3 doses = 3 antigens
  • rotavirus: 15 antigens * 3 doses = 45 antigens
  • Flu: 12 antigens * 1 dose = 12 antigens

That’s 9,032 fewer antigens or less than 2% of what they once got, even though they are protected against many more diseases!

Not worried about antigens anymore?

Just remember that in the 1950s, in addition to all of these extra antigens, except for smallpox, these vaccines were made with thimerosal and aluminum.

Not that those ingredients were dangerous then, or today. It’s just more recently that folks decided that they were scary.

But it is just important to keep in mind that it is misleading to say that kids only got 2 vaccines then, and now get 69, 72, or 74.

In fact, it’s not just misleading, it’s lying.

If you use the same anti-vaccine math, in the 1950s, they actually got at least 22 doses by age 9 or 10! And they got even more once the polio vaccine was introduced in 1955.

Vaccines don't destroy your life force...
Vaccines don’t destroy your life-force…

Anti-vaccine folks still try to downplay the number of doses of vaccines folks got back in the 1950s and 1960s though.

Why?

To scare you.

Kids do get more vaccines, but they have far fewer antigens, and more vaccines means more protection against more diseases.

In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, kids were dying of diseases that are now vaccine preventable, including rotavirus, hepatitis A and B, chicken pox, pneumococcal meningitis, epiglottitis, Hib meningitis, and meningococcal meningitis, etc.

What about the idea that all of the extra vaccine doses were added right after the passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986?

Believe it or not, it was almost nine years, 1995, before a new vaccine (Varivax) was added to the immunization schedule. Others were slowly added after that, including:

  • hepatitis A (1996)
  • rotavirus (1998)
  • Prevnar (2000)
  • Menactra (2006)
  • Tdap (2006)
  • Gardasil (2006)

The biggest change? The one that helps boost the numbers of doses so that anti-vaccine folks can try and say that kids get 72 doses of vaccines?

That was when we started recommending flu shots for healthy kids, beginning with infants for the 2004-05 flu season. Remember, nearly a third of their list is just flu shots…

What about Hib and Hep B? They were both added right before the passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

Guess what?

Nothing about their little anti-vaccine memes are true.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are necessary.

More on Too Many Too Soon Revisited


Did CBS and Hulu Remove the Brady Bunch Measles Episode?

Have you heard the latest anti-vaccine conspiracy theory?

Measles is highly contagious, which is likely why all of the Brady kids got sick.
Measles is highly contagious, which is likely why all of the Brady kids got sick.

Remember the Brady Bunch measles episode?

The one where all the kids got sick and two different pediatricians had to visit the house to check on the kids?

Did CBS and Hulu Remove the Brady Bunch Measles Episode?

While anti-vaccine folks apparently use the fact that the Brady Bunch did a measles episode as a reason to skip or delay their own child’s vaccines, they have gone a little further now, coming up with a conspiracy theory about efforts to keep people from watching the episode.

Are CBS and Hulu part of a conspiracy to silence anti-vaccine folks?
Are CBS and Hulu part of a conspiracy to silence anti-vaccine folks?

The episode, Is There a Doctor in the House?, aired during season 1 on December 26, 1969.

For reference, this was just after the updated measles vaccine was approved in 1967, and when there were at least 25,826 measles cases in the United States and 41 deaths.

Why didn’t they talk about any of that during the episode?

Although some folks read a lot into the episode, it was basically about how Carol and Mike each called separate pediatricians to the house for the kids, one for the boys and one for the girls, instead of just calling one for the newly formed Brady bunch.

But think about it… If measles is so mild, why did they have to call their pediatricians?

And if nothing else, remember that it shows how contagious measles really is. All of the kids got sick!

But was the episode removed so that you can’t watch it anymore?

Where's Episode 13?!? Where are episodes 5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 17, and 18? Were they all about measles too?
Where’s Episode 13?!? Where are episodes 5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 17, and 18? Were they all about measles too?

Since a lot of other episodes are missing, and not just from season 1, it doesn’t seem very likely.

Why did they pull Season 6, Episode 4 Little Ricky Gets Stage Fright of I Love Lucy? Was that the one where he was got a smallpox vaccine?
Why did they pull Season 6, Episode 4 Little Ricky Gets Stage Fright of I Love Lucy? Was that the one where he was got a smallpox vaccine?

And keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for there to be missing episodes when you try to stream these older shows online.

Mostly remember that when you think that everything is a conspiracy, everything looks like a conspiracy, even when it is easy to find a more reasonable explanation.

More on the Brady Bunch Measles Episode Conspiracy

Has This Really Been the Longest Flu Season in a Decade?

Many folks were probably surprised by reports that this has been the longest flu season in ten years.

After all, just about everything about this year’s flu season has likely seemed mild compared to last year.

“There have been 21 straight weeks of elevated flu season in the U.S., making the current 2018-2019 flu season the longest in ten years.”

CNN

But here we are.

Has This Really Been the Longest Flu Season in a Decade?

What does it really mean to have 21 straight weeks of elevated flu season?

Where is it elevated and by how much?

“Influenza-like-illness levels have been elevated for 21 weeks this season, breaking the previous record of 20 weeks set during the 2014-2015 flu season.”

Situation Update: Summary of Weekly FluView Report Week 15

It’s likely that the media reports have been generated by a statement in the latest Weekly FluView Report that influenza-like-illness levels have been elevated for a little longer than usual this season.

What does that mean?

Well, influenza-like-illness levels are the proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI), or basically, how many people are going to the doctor with flu symptoms. Once we get above the national baseline of 2.2%, we know that flu season has started.

“The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) decreased to 2.4%, but remains above the national baseline of 2.2%. Seven of 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level.”

Situation Update: Summary of Weekly FluView Report Week 15

And it ends when we get back below 2.2%.

Flu season is the time we spend above the national baseline level of influenza-like illness activity.

What’s missing in the talk of the longest flu season, is that it doesn’t tell you much about the severity of the flu season. For example, the peak ILI this year was well below that of last year.

And flu season doesn’t start and end at the same time all over the country.

The bottom line? This has been an average flu season and a lot of people still died, including at least 91 children.

So whether it is a long or short flu season, severe or mild, get a flu vaccine and be protected.

More on the Longest Flu Season

Why You Have No Business Skipping the MMR Vaccine?

Believe it or not, some folks are still pushing misinformation to scare people away from getting vaccinated and protected against measles.

The Disney outbreak was not caused by a vaccine strain!
The Disney outbreak was not caused by a vaccine strain!

Ironically, this guy talks about propaganda, manipulating parents, and media lies without saying anything that is truthful.

As I’m sure you are aware, the Disney measles outbreak was not caused by a vaccine strain.

Anti-vaccine folks frequently misinterpret the meaning of these vaccine strain cases. They are people who were recently vaccinated and develop a fever and rash. They do not have measles and are not part of the outbreak counts.
Anti-vaccine folks frequently misinterpret the meaning of these vaccine strain cases. They are people who were recently vaccinated and develop a fever and rash. They do not have measles and are not part of the outbreak counts.

The outbreak strain during the Disney outbreak was B3, which can be traced to outbreaks in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. Neither the Disneyland outbreak nor any outbreak has been caused by a vaccine strain of measles.

What about the idea that measles is now harmless???

Or that measles isn’t deadly is a developed country with a well-nourished population???

In response to a post praising Italy's decision to dilute their new vaccine laws, some folks thought it was funny that people were dying of measles.
Italy is a developed country with a very well-nourished population, and still, there have been at least 12 measles deaths since 2017.

Why have so many people died with measles in Europe recently if it is so harmless?

Did Chris Kirckof like his own post?
Did Chris Kirckof like his own post?

Yes, research it for yourself and you will find the complications of recent measles infections he left out, including the pregnant woman with who had a miscarriage during the 2013 measles outbreak in Brooklyn.

And the 8 SSPE deaths since 2009.

Are you wondering why he started his measles counts from 2014? It was to avoid mentioning the death of the woman in Washington in 2015.

Mostly remember that the reason we don’t see even more measles cases, measles complications, and measles deaths in the United States is simply because most people are vaccinated and protected.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

More on Don’t Skip the MMR Vaccine

Peanut Butter or the Plague?

There are plenty of good arguments that parents make when advocating for vaccines.

This meme about peanut butter isn’t one of them.

Vaccinate your kids or I’ll expose them to a potentially deadly allergen?

Anyway, it’s Jif peanut butter.

Does jiffy pop make peanut butter flavored popcorn?

There is no such thing as Jiffy peanut butter.

Peanut Butter or the Plague?

And since it isn’t just unvaccinated kids who have peanut allergies, the whole idea of this meme really makes no sense.

Well, maybe the first part does. After all, sometimes we do things to protect others from getting sick.

Getting vaccinated and protected to promote herd immunity is one of them. In addition to protecting ourselves from life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases, if we don’t get sick, we avoid exposing those who can’t be protected by vaccines, including those who are too young to be vaccinated and those with immune system problems.

Of course, there is another reason the meme doesn’t make sense.

A peanut allergy is a medical condition. Sending your intentionally unvaccinated kid to school is a choice.

Stop sharing this meme.

It’s insulting to parents of kids with severe food allergies and does nothing to advocate for vaccines.

More on Peanut Butter or the Plague

Why Should Medical Exemptions Be Based on CDC Contraindications?

Getting a medical exemption for vaccines isn’t controversial.

Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Why Should Medical Exemptions Be Based on CDC Contraindications?

As many people know though, some people have been taking advantage of the fact that medical exemptions weren’t clearly defined in California’s vaccine law.

Who are the doctors handing out fake medical exemptions in California?
Who are the doctors handing out fake medical exemptions in California?

Are there just a few doctors taking advantage of the California law?

“But at 105 schools in the state, 10% or more of kindergartners had a medical exemption in the school year that ended last month, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of state data.”

Pushback against immunization laws leaves some California schools vulnerable to outbreaks

Is 10% a lot?

In one recent report, Vaccination Coverage for Selected Vaccines, Exemption Rates, and Provisional Enrollment Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2016–17 School Year, the median rate of medical exemptions in the US was just 0.2%, with a range of <0.1 to 1.5%.

In West Virginia and Mississippi, states that don’t allow non-medical exemptions and where criteria for medical exemptions are fairly strict, the rates were 0.1 and 0.3% respectively.

And that’s about what you would expect, as there are very few true contraindications or precautions to getting vaccinated.

So yes, 10% is an awful lot and that’s a good sign that it is more than just a few doctors taking advantage of the law.

“If a child has a medical exemption to immunization, a physician licensed to practice medicine in New York State must certify that the immunization is detrimental to the child’s health. The medical exemption should specify which immunization is detrimental to the child’s health, provide information as to why the immunization is contraindicated based on current accepted medical practice, and specify the length of time the immunization is medically contraindicated, if known.”

Dear Colleague letter regarding guidelines for use of immunization exemptions

Why do most other states have so few medical exemptions?

Mostly because there are very few true medical reasons to skip or delay a child’s vaccines!

They include, but aren’t limited to, the contraindications and precautions listed in the package insert for each vaccine (the contraindications and warnings sections…) and by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

They don’t include many other things that are “incorrectly perceived as contraindications to vaccination,” such as things in the family medical history of the child, eczema (unless they are getting the smallpox vaccine), colic, sleep apnea, or being a picky eater.

Is everything a vaccine injury?
Is everything a vaccine injury?

It should be obvious.

Medical exemptions for vaccines should be based on CDC criteria because some folks think that everything is a vaccine injury.

More on Medical Exemptions