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Vaccinated vs Unvaccinated – Measles Outbreak Edition

There are two big reasons that we are still having to talk about how it’s mainly unvaccinated folks that get sick in measles outbreaks.

Some folks keep spreading misinformation about measles, such as how most of the people who got sick in the Disney outbreak were vaccinated!?!

And other folks believe them!

Vaccinated vs Unvaccinated – Measles Outbreak Edition

Fortunately, misinformation about the number of vaccinated vs unvaccinated in an outbreak is among the easiest things to fact check.

Although folks will try to misrepresent this slide, as you can easily see, most of the folks in the Disneyland outbreak were unvaccinated.

That’s not how any of this works…

For example, if you wanted to assume that the 20 people who said that they were vaccinated really were, then you have to assume that the rest of those folks weren’t. And you also have to raise the number of folks who had their immunization status verified.

But you really shouldn’t make assumptions. All you can really say for sure from this data is that 15 (13 + 2) of the people, out of the 131 cases, were fully vaccinated.

What about the New York outbreak in 2011? Was it really started by someone who was fully vaccinated?

Surprisingly, it was!

“This is the first report of measles transmission from a twice-vaccinated individual with documented secondary vaccine failure. The clinical presentation and laboratory data of the index patient were typical of measles in a naive individual. Secondary patients had robust anamnestic antibody responses. No tertiary cases occurred despite numerous contacts.”

Rosen et al on Outbreak of measles among persons with prior evidence of immunity, New York City, 2011.

And it was a very big deal because it was the first time it had ever been reported as happening!

“During 2011, a provisional total of 222 measles cases were reported from 31 states. The median age of the patients was 14 years (range: 3 months to 84 years); 27 (14%) were aged <12 months, 51 (26%) were aged 1–4 years, 42 (21%) were aged 5–19 years, and 76 (39%) were aged ≥20 years. Most patients were unvaccinated (65%) or had unknown vaccination status (21%).”

Measles — United States, 2011

That’s in contrast to all of the other measles cases that year. Remember, there were a total of 222 measles cases in the United States in 2011. Few were vaccinated.

What about other measles outbreaks?

Only 4% of people in the Rockland County measles outbreak have been fully vaccinated.
Only 4% of people in the Rockland County measles outbreak have been fully vaccinated.

As much as folks try and report that most of the people in recent outbreaks are vaccinated, they aren’t.

Only one person, out of 53 cases of measles, is known to have had a dose of MMR in the Clark County measles outbreak.

What about other measles outbreaks?

California – 24 cases201724
Minnesota – 75 cases20175682
Tennessee – 7 cases201616
Ohio – 383 cases2014534038
California – 58 cases2014112518
Texas – 21 cases2013165
Florida – 5 cases20135
Brooklyn – 58 cases201358
North Carolina – 23 cases20132183
Minnesota – 21 cases2011183
San Diego – 12 cases200812

We don’t even have to do the math.

“The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated.”

Measles Cases and Outbreaks

It is easy to see that most folks in these outbreaks are unvaccinated!

Get vaccinated and stop the outbreaks. Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary.

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6 thoughts on “Vaccinated vs Unvaccinated – Measles Outbreak Edition”

  1. Person who thinks

    Unfortunately, anything with risks cannot be ethically called “safe”, it can be called “low risk” or something similar, which would be a personal judgement/opinion based on your interpretations/understanding of the risks and willingness to accept them considering potential benefits. That is something people can only do for themselves when accurate information is freely and transparently given regarding the true risks, not simply shaming or ostracising people for expressing concern.
    Also, here is one article I got on a very credible site on a simple web search. Seems that you are interpreting the data only in ways that support a conclusion you have already decided is true. Not very scientific, in my view. This is a much more complicated topic than people want to make it, most of whom are just trying to get more people to get vaccinated… hopefully with good intentions, but mostly out of fear. Fear of illness is a great motivator, but you don’t address the fears of those who fear vaccination risks by simply continuing to insist upon promises of safety they have already heard. The true risks need to be addressed with transparency and real consideration, not just more denial.

  2. Here are the stats for the 2014/15 Disneyland outbreak you mentioned: 82 (62%) cases had immunization status verified. 57 (70%) of these were unvaccinated. Of the 25 (31%) who were vaccinated:10 had one dose of MMR vaccine. 13 had two doses of MMR vaccine. 2 had three doses of MMR vaccine• 49 of the 131 cases did not have immunization records; 48 of these were adults – 20 of whom self-reported being vaccinated; many others were unsure

    Even these numbers are skewed to show a bias. 20 of the people who didn’t have official records said they had gotten the MMR vaccine. If we are not calling them liars, that changes our numbers DRAMATICALLY!

    57 unvaccinated, 45 vaccinated… drum roll please….. 44% of the measles cases were vaccinated.

    I would most certainly agree with Bob Sears and say that MOST were vaccinated. The problem is that you are drawing the line for ‘most’ at 51%, so you say, most were unvaccinated, but you fail to tell the truth about what most means. And I’ll bet if we knew for certain about each person, we would have even more who really did get the shot, but simply didn’t know for sure.

    TL:DR when nearly half of the people who got measles were fully or partially vaccinated, I would say that it IS NOT MAINLY the unvaccinated who get sick. Do you actually believe what you’re telling people?

    1. Small words for Daniel

      Do you really not understand, or are you deliberately distorting things? Assuming for the sake of argument that you are confused and not lying, I’ll explain

      In the United States, 90% of people are vaccinated against measles – the unvaccinated are a tiny minority. So, if vaccines were useless, we’d expect to see that 90% of measles cases occurred in vaccinated people. But instead, we see that only 50% of the cases occurred in vaccinated people and 50% occurred in unvaccinated people. Therefore, unvaccinated people get measles 5 times more frequently than random chance would suggest, and vaccinated people get measles about 1/2 as frequently as random chance would suggest.

      If this math is still too confusing for you, try this example. When I looked at the number of deaths that occurred for people jumping out of a plane, I found that 100% of the deaths were of people wearing parachutes. Would you argue that since none of the deaths occurred for people not wearing parachutes, that not wearing a parachute was a smart choice?

  3. Perhaps I am a bit math challenged. And perhaps my logic is flawed as well, because, does it not seem strange that almost 50% of the cases of measles are seen in vaccinated people? If 90% are vaccinated, shouldn’t they like, I don’t know, not get measles? And then the 10% unvaccinated would be the only ones who get it? Alas, is my comment incorrect: “it IS NOT MAINLY the unvaccinated who get sick”? I may be a lost cause, but please tell me if I’m still not getting it.

    1. An honest answer - in case your question was honest.

      Ok. I’ll use simple words. Let’s say we have 1000 people. 900 are vaccinated, and 100 are unvaccinated. Out of these 1000 people, 100 get measles – 50 were vaccinated and 50 were unvaccinated. So the odds of a vaccinated person getting measles are 50/900 while the odds for an unvaccinated person are 50/100 – in other words, vaccinated people are 9 times less likely to get the disease. This is good if you like people not getting disease.

      1. It does make a lot more sense when you say it like that. Vaxed people are 9 times less likely to get it. I can see that. Sorry if I upset any of you with my posts. Another question if anyone cares to answer, or even knows an answer (I honestly don’t have a clue what the answer is). How many of the measles deaths were in vaxed vs unvaxed people? Still ~50%?

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