Instead, we have just been seeing more and more cases of measles.
The VACCINES Act
Well, we might finally be getting a new Federal vaccine law, but it isn’t the kind of law that will force people to get vaccinated that anti-vaccine folks have been warning us about.
Instead, the Vaccine Awareness Campaign to Champion Immunization Nationally and Enhance Safety (VACCINES) Act, which was recently introduced by Representative Kim Schrier (D-Wash.) will simply help to increase public awareness of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.
“Vaccines were one of the greatest medical accomplishments of the 20th century and have been proven safe and effective at preventing diseases that once killed or greatly harmed people around the world.
As a pediatrician, I understand that parents want to do what they think is best for their children and some do not vaccinate because of unfounded fears. We are now seeing outbreaks of diseases like measles, which was considered eliminated 19 years ago, in part because of an anti-vaccine campaigns around the country. This bill will make sure that parents have access to facts about vaccines, so they can make an informed decision.”
Rep. Kim Schrier
The VACCINES Act will:
provide for a national system for surveillance of vaccine rates
“Beginning in 1991, the military services implemented universal recruit immunization with a single dose of MMR vaccine, regardless of prior vaccination history. Shortly thereafter, and informed by the results of population serosurveys, the Air Force transitioned to a policy of targeted MMR vaccination, limiting the administration of MMR vaccine to recruits lacking serologic evidence of immunity to measles or rubella. With recent outbreaks of mumps, concerns have arisen that the practice of not specifically screening for mumps immunity in determining the need for MMR vaccine could lead to a relative increase in mumps risk among military recruits subject to screening. “
Eick et al on Incidence of mumps and immunity to measles, mumps and rubella among US military recruits, 2000–2004
Unlike measles, the MMR vaccine provides good, but not great protection against mumps.
And although military recruits are screened to see if they have low titers for measles and rubella, they still aren’t screened for mumps. The theory is that if their measles and rubella titers are low, then their mumps titer will be low too and they will get an MMR vaccine. Of course, this misses some who just have a low mumps titer, possibly an effect of waning immunity.
Mumps on the USS Fort McHenry
And that’s why we have been seeing mumps outbreaks on college campuses and most recently, on a Navy ship, although that isn’t a reason for everyone to go out and check their titers.
In the pre-vaccine era, although mumps was supposed to be a common childhood illness, about 1/3 to 1/2 of military recruits had never had mumps.
That meant big outbreaks of mumps that were hard to control, unlike what we see today.
“This article reports a recent public health response to 3 imported mumps cases occurring at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, that resulted in a contact investigation for 109 close contacts across varied settings. No secondary mumps cases were identified.”
Public Health Response to Imported Mumps Cases – Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 2018
Instead, not only do fewer people get sick during mumps outbreaks these days, but fortunately, they have fewer complications.
In addition to a swollen jaw, mumps is known to cause orchitis, aseptic meningitis, oophoritis, pancreatitis, and encephalitis.
“Risk was reduced for hospitalization, mumps orchitis and mumps meningitis when patient had received 1 dose of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. The protective effect of vaccination on disease severity is critical in assessing the total effects of current and future mumps control strategies.”
Young et al on Mumps Complications and Effects of Mumps Vaccination, England and Wales, 2002–2006
Fortunately, those complications are reduced when you get vaccinated. And so are your risks of actually getting mumps in the first place!
“This study demonstrates a significant preventive effect of two-dose vaccination against mumps complications (orchitis, meningitis, or encephalitis) and hospitalization for mumps.”
Orlíkováet al on Protective effect of vaccination against mumps complications, Czech Republic, 2007-2012.
“Whatever you think about Andrew Wakefield, the real villains of the MMR scandal are the media.”
Ben Goldacre on The MMR story that wasn’t
Believe it or not, there likely would not have been a big scare over the DPT vaccine in the 1970s and 80s or concerns about the MMR vaccine if the media hadn’t given so much attention to the anti-vaccine players involved.
False Balance About Vaccines at the Chicago Tribune
Folks in the media have learned their lesson though, right?
“Balance? There is no balance. There is mainstream, superstrong consensus about the value of vaccination, and on the other side … nothing else, since there is no other side. The media have made parents worry about vaccines in a lame effort to provide balance and all points of view.”
Arthur Caplan on There is no other side to the vaccine debate
Well, apparently not all of them…
Why would the Chicago Tribune devote nearly 20% of an article to a parent who is against vaccines, especially without correcting her misinformation?
Why haven’t they learned that spreading this kind of misinformation is what scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids in the first place?
Are vaccinations about parent choice or public safety? That’s the title of the Chicago Tribune article. And maybe that’s why Illinois is among top 5 states for measles as debate heats up, the rest of the title…
you don’t have to worry about getting measles, chicken pox, and rubella, etc., anymore, because these diseases are rare, forgetting to mention that they are still relatively rare in many countries because most people are vaccinated and protected! When more folks skip or delay their vaccines, as they forget what these diseases are like and they listen to anti-vaccine propaganda, we get outbreaks, especially when they aren’t vaccinated and they travel to places where the diseases are more common!
everyone else overlooks the risks, when in fact, the risks of getting vaccinated and protected are just small and all of the so-called vaccine-induced diseases and other things anti-vaccine folks blame on vaccines aren’t real vaccine injuries
you don’t have to worry about getting measles, pertussis, or pneumococcal disease, etc., because those diseases are all mild, neglecting to mention that some people do have complications and some die when they catch them
if you don’t choose to vaccinate your kids on your own,someone is going to force you to get them vaccinated, overlooking that vaccine mandates don’t actually force anyone to vaccinate their kids – they are just about whether or not intentionally unvaccinated kids should be able to attend school
your choice to skip or delay your child’s vaccines won’t affect anyone else, failing to mention that most outbreaks are started by someone who is intentionally not vaccinated
if there is a risk, there must be a choice, but with their slogan, they overstate the risks of vaccines, never mention the risks of having the disease, and don’t mention the risk of your child getting other people sick, taking away their choice to keep their kids safe and healthy
you can always get vaccinated, but you can never get unvaccinated, neglecting to mention that you can indeed wait too long to vaccinate your kids
“Although we give vaccines in my office every day, I oppose HB 3063. As you consider HB 3063, I thought you should have the real-world data from the largest pediatric practice in Oregon with the most patients who will be affected by your proposed bill.”
Paul Thomas goes on to explain why his patients haven’t received all of their recommended vaccines.
One reason is that he doesn’t even offer the rotavirus vaccine, although he doesn’t mention that. But how do you make an informed choice about a vaccine when the vaccine isn’t even available to you?
“Most of my patients make the educated decision not to give one vaccine-hepatitis B – to their infants. This is because you catch hepatitis B from sex and IV drug use so if a child is born to a mother that does not have hepatitis B, the child is at no risk of getting this disease. Preschool and young school-aged children are not at risk for hepatitis B, which is why most countries in the developed world only recommend this vaccine for at-risk groups and not for everyone.”
Since he doesn’t think they are at any risk when they are younger, does Dr. Thomas advocate that his patients catch up on their hepatitis B series when they are older? Does he mention that until we switched to a universal vaccination program, some infants were missed and developed perinatal hepatitis B? Or the risks of needle sticks, etc.?
“These are the kinds of details and nuances that we must discuss with every vaccine. Whether we are talking about vaccines, antibiotics, ADD medication, or even a surgical procedure, we spend a good deal of time with our patients providing what we in medicine call “informed consent.” We explain the risks and benefits of the recommended medical intervention, the risks and benefits of not doing the intervention, and the alternatives. These conversations are best had in the privacy of a doctor’s office, not in the state legislature. As each child is different, we do not believe there should be any one-size-fits-all medicine. “
“Finally, I am also concerned that thousands of families will either leave Oregon-as tens of thousands of families have left California – or leave the public school system and homeschool instead. While I have nothing against homeschooling, I believe this would result in a large and unfortunate loss of revenue for Oregon’s already underfunded public schools. “
It’s a good reminder that the one lesson Oregon can learn from California is to make stricter rules on what counts as a medical exemption…
“We all have the same goal, which is to help Oregon’s children survive and thrive. No one wants a recurrence of infectious diseases in Oregon or anywhere in the United States. “
If Paul Thomas’ real motivation was to stop the outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease and keep states from passing new vaccine laws, then maybe he should stop scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.
“I hired an independent data expert, Dr. Michael Gaven, MD, to analyze the outcomes from my practice as part of a quality assurance project. Dr. Gaven studied the outcomes for those patients born into my practice during the past decade, since I opened my doors on June 1 2008.”
What outcomes? Is it how many of the kids in his practice developed vaccine-preventable diseases unnecessarily?
No, Paul Thomas published data that he thinks says that his unvaccinated kids get less autism than everyone else, except that there is a lot of bias in the numbers, we don’t know how many kids left his practice (especially any who might have developed autism), or even what criteria he uses to diagnose kids with autism. The numbers likely aren’t even statistically significant.
“I honestly felt like it was never going to go away. The doctor told me it was 100 day cough, so I was counting the days while Googling to see if there was anything that could help. I tried everything, you name it, I tried it, and nothing worked. It came to 120 days and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t gone. I then researched and found that babies take longer to get over whooping cough.”
Fern’s Story – Whooping Cough
Fortunately, the cough doesn’t typically last that long if you are vaccinated and still get pertussis.
Which disease was known as “the Strangling Angel?”
“The breathing became much more difficult, with a kind of rattling stertor, as if the patient was actually strangling, the voice being exceeding hoarse and hollow, exactly resembling that from venereal ulcers in the fauces. This noise, in speaking and breathing, was so peculiar, that any person in the least conversant with the disease might easily know it by this odd noise; from whence, indeed, the Spanish physicians gave it the name of garrotillo, expressing the noise such make as are strangling with a rope.”
Edward Headlam Greenhow on Diphtheria
How about “The Crippler?”
The “Speckled Monster?”
We forget these names, because we don’t see these diseases anymore.
“…for those trained in pediatrics in the 1970s, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) was a horror.”
While mortality rates did indeed decline for most diseases and conditions in the early part of the 20th century because of advancements in living conditions, nutrition, and health care, that effect had plateaued by the mid-1930s.
It is true that vitamin A deficiency increases the risk for more severe complications and death from measles, which is why it can be more deadly in undeveloped countries where malnutrition is a big problem.
“Because of gaps in vaccination coverage, measles outbreaks occurred in all regions, while there were an estimated 110 000 deaths related to the disease.”
Measles cases spike globally due to gaps in vaccination coverage
Unfortunately, the other big problem in many of these countries is that these kids are unvaccinated because of a lack of access to vaccines.
Immune globulin is a treatment option if you have been exposed to measles, but it is not actually a treatment once you have measles. And high dose vitamin A mainly benefits those with a vitamin A deficiency, which is unlikely in an industrial country, like the United States.
While you are at risk for encephalitis and seizures after a natural infection, after getting a dose of MMR, one risk is a febrile seizure, which is typically thought to be benign.
The risk of having a febrile seizure after the first dose of the MMR vaccine is about 1 in 2,500 doses. There is also a small risk of having a febrile seizure if the flu vaccine is given at the same time as a Prevnar or DTaP vaccine.
It is important to note that vaccines are not the only reason that children have febrile seizures. Many infections, including vaccine preventable infections, can trigger febrile seizures, in addition to causing more serious types of non-febrile seizures.
It is very unlikely that any of the kids who develop febrile seizures after a vaccine will later develop epilepsy.
“Febrile seizures can be frightening, but nearly all children who have a febrile seizure recover quickly, are healthy afterwards, and do not have any permanent neurological damage. Febrile seizures do not make children more likely to develop epilepsy or any other seizure disorder.”
Febrile Seizures Following Childhood Vaccinations, Including Influenza Vaccination
Without any risk factors (parent or sibling with epilepsy, having complex febrile seizures, or abnormal development), a child with febrile seizures has the same risk of developing epilepsy has any other child.
Wait, what? Yeah, all vaccines have preclinical toxicology studies, including single and/or repeat dose, reproductive and developmental, mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, and safety pharmacology. If any issues are found, further studies are done.