Tag: eradication

Measles Outbreaks in New Zealand

Just like other areas of the world, New Zealand has a problem with measles outbreaks. It shouldn’t be surprising then that they also have a problem with folks pushing anti-vax misinformation.

Where are the areas in New Zealand with 97% MMR vaccination rates?
Where are the areas in New Zealand with 97% MMR vaccination rates? Just askin…

Are they really seeing the most measles cases in the areas with the highest vaccination rates?

Measles Outbreaks in New Zealand

One thing is sure, there are a lot of measles cases in New Zealand.

“From 1 January 2019 to 10 October 2019 there have been 1742 confirmed cases of measles notified across New Zealand. 1416 of these confirmed cases are in the Auckland region.”

2019 NZ measles outbreak information

Do we know which parts of New Zealand have the most measles outbreaks?

We do!

Where are the cases in the measles outbreaks in New Zealand?
The case count is now up to 1742…

Of course, this doesn’t really tell you anything about why some districts have more cases than others…

Is it because they have more unvaccinated people or simply because they have a lot more people?

Many of the measles cases in New Zealand are in infants too young to be vaccinated and in teens and young adults.
Many of the measles cases in New Zealand are in infants too young to be vaccinated and in teens and young adults.

Wherever they live, we know that like measles outbreaks in every other part of the world, few of the folks with measles in New Zealand are known to be fully vaccinated.

And while New Zealand had eliminated home grown-cases of measles just a few years ago, it wasn’t with vaccination rates of 97%.

“For immunisation from measles, rubella and mumps two doses of the vaccine called MMR are needed. Dr McElnay said among New Zealand’s children and infants, 95 percent had had the first dose and 90 percent the full vaccine.”

NZ eliminates NZ-origin measles

Unfortunately, while they were working to get younger kids vaccinated and protected, many older kids and adults are still not vaccinated.

“However, we must remain vigilant and improve our vaccination rates because these diseases can easily spread among unimmunised people from imported cases. In New Zealand, people aged 12 to 32 years have lower vaccination rates than young children so are less likely to be protected against these diseases.”

Measles and rubella officially eliminated in New Zealand

Only about 80% of teens and young adults are fully vaccinated against measles in New Zealand!

Combined with high numbers of folks who were never vaccinated and folks who travel to other parts of the world where measles is still endemic and you have a recipe for disaster.

“While there have been no measles deaths in this outbreak, there have been five pregnant women hospitalised and two fetal losses associated with these events.”

Report investigates high hospitalisation rates for measles in Auckland region

In addition to the two unborn babies who died, there are also reports of at least three hospitalisations for encephalitis.

Two doses of the MMR vaccine is your best protection against measles.

A disaster that could easily be prevented with two doses of a vaccine that is safe, with few risks, and obviously necessary.

More on Measles in New Zealand

Why Do Anti-Vax Folks Get Excited About Polio Outbreaks?

At least two things happen whenever we hear about a new polio outbreak. And yes, I said polio outbreak.

One is that many people assume it is wild polio and that we are moving further away from finally eradicating polio.

Hopefully folks understand that polio outbreaks wouldn't just stop if we stopped vaccinating...
Hopefully folks understand that polio outbreaks wouldn’t just stop if we stopped vaccinating…

And the other?

Anti-vax folks assume that it is an outbreak of vaccine strain polio and very wrongly use this as a reason to try and scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

“The polio outbreak in the Philippines is confirmed to be from a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2. This is of particular concern, as wild poliovirus type 2 was certified as globally eradicated in 2015. Poorly conducted immunization activities, when too few children have received the required three doses of polio vaccine, leave them susceptible to poliovirus, either from vaccine-derived or wild polioviruses. Full immunization protects them from both forms of the virus.”

WHO, UNICEF and partners support Philippine Department of Health’s polio outbreak response

As expected, that’s the response we are seeing from anti-vax folks to news of the latest outbreak of polio in the Philippines.

Why Do Anti-Vax Folks Get Excited About Polio Outbreaks?

But isn’t bad that the polio vaccine can actually cause outbreaks?

Of course!

No one wants people to get sick after getting vaccinated. And that’s why we are moving towards stopping the use of the oral polio vaccine that causes vaccine derived polio.

It is also very important to consider the alternative. A lot more people getting wild polio!

“As recently as 30 years ago, wild poliovirus paralysed more than 350,000 children in more than 125 countries every year. In 2018 there were fewer than 30 reported cases in just two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“Zero polio transmission and health for all”, WHO Director-General gives new year’s wish to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan

We also need to remember the reason we typically see outbreaks of vaccine strain polio. It is because vaccination rates have dropped in an area!

Wait, what?

Yes, that’s right. The polio vaccine, in addition to protecting you from wild polio can prevent you from getting the vaccine strain polio too.

But isn’t the polio vaccine causing many more cases of polio than the actual polio virus?

Bob Sears recently shared an article that was two years old about mutant strains of polio causing outbreaks

It once was, but that’s simply because we are getting very close to eradicating polio and there were fewer cases of wild polio!

While there were far more cases of vaccine derived polio than wild polio last year, there were more cases of wild polio earlier in 2019 and it is now about even.

Tragically, we are starting to see more and more cases of wild polio.

Science event in Washington, D.C. reminding folks that Vaccines Work.
Pediatricians at the March for Science event in Washington, D.C. reminding folks that Vaccines Work.

Still, we are no where near the numbers of cases of polio and kids getting paralyzed when polio was epidemic in most countries.

And the outbreaks of vaccine derived polio?

They demonstrate what happens when we don’t keep up our immunization rates. And how anti-vax folks either don’t understand or intentionally try to misinform parents about how vaccines work.

More on Polio Outbreaks

Are Mutant Strains of Polio Vaccine Now Causing More Paralysis Than Wild Polio?

Believe it or not, it’s true.

Mutant strains of polio vaccine have been causing more paralysis than wild polio.

Are Mutant Strains of Polio Vaccine Now Causing More Paralysis Than Wild Polio?

Although anti-vaccine folks seem to be having a field day over the news, it doesn’t really mean what they think it means.

It isn’t even true anymore…

Not getting polio is a good thing. A pediatrician, especially one who wrote a vaccine book should understand the benefits of the polio vaccine.

The article Bob Sears shared isn’t even current…

“So far in 2017, there have been only six cases of “wild” polio reported anywhere in the world. By “wild,” public health officials mean the disease caused by polio virus found naturally in the environment.

By contrast, there have been 21 cases of vaccine-derived polio this year.”

Mutant Strains Of Polio Vaccine Now Cause More Paralysis Than Wild Polio

It was from two years ago.

There were only 22 cases of wild polio in the world in 2017. We are on track for many more cases this year.
There were only 22 cases of wild polio in the world in 2017. We are on track for many more cases this year.

He doesn’t even mention the main reason that mutant strains of polio vaccine are now causing more paralysis than wild polio.

“Global efforts to immunise children with the oral polio vaccine (OPV) have reduced wild poliovirus cases by 99.9% since 1988.”

Fact Sheet: Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus

And that is simply because most people are vaccinated and protected and we are very close to eradicating polio!

“As recently as 30 years ago, wild poliovirus paralysed more than 350,000 children in more than 125 countries every year. In 2018 there were fewer than 30 reported cases in just two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“Zero polio transmission and health for all”, WHO Director-General gives new year’s wish to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan

Nor does he mention that vaccine derived polio virus strains mutate when too many people are unvaccinated.

What else does Bob Sears leave out of his post?

Polio this week as of 24 July 2019, with more paralysis from wild polio viruses than mutant strains of the polio vaccine.
Polio this week as of 24 July 2019, with more paralysis from wild polio viruses than mutant strains of the polio vaccine.

So far, this year, we are tragically seeing more paralysis from wild polio than mutant strains of the polio vaccine!

What’s the last thing Bob Sears left out of his post?

Most of the “mutant strains” of polio vaccine are from the type 2 vaccine virus, which isn’t being used anymore. In 2016, all countries switched to bivalent OPV, which doesn’t include the type 2 polio virus strain.

And since most cases of wild polio are in just a few countries, namely Pakistan and Afghanistan, we will hopefully get back on track to eradication and also see a drop in paralysis from the mutant vaccine strains. That’s when we can stop using the oral polio vaccine all together.

At least we will if folks stop listening to anti-vaccine misinformation and propaganda that scares them away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

More On Paralysis from Mutant Strains of Polio Vaccine Vs Wild Polio

Did Gregory Poland Really Say That MMR Vaccines Can’t Prevent Measles Outbreaks?

One of the pillars of the anti-vaccine movement is their belief that vaccines don’t even work.

They even think that they have graphs to prove it! They don’t…

Did Gregory Poland Really Say That MMR Vaccines Can’t Prevent Measles Outbreaks?

To help them try and argue their point, they also seem to like to cherry pick and misuse quotes from real experts.

Anti-vaccine propaganda from Lawrence Solomon.
Is that what Dr. Poland said?

In 2012, Gregory Poland, the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Vaccine, did publish the article, The Re-Emergence of Measles in Developed Countries: Time to Develop the Next-Generation Measles Vaccines?

No where in the article does he say that the measles vaccine can’t prevent measles outbreaks.

He is just saying that since the vaccine isn’t 100% effective and because measles is so contagious, that it can’t prevent all measles outbreaks.

“Thus, measles outbreaks also occur even among highly vaccinated populations because of primary and secondary vaccine failure, which results in gradually larger pools of susceptible persons and outbreaks once measles is introduced.”

Poland et al on The Re-Emergence of Measles in Developed Countries: Time to Develop the Next-Generation Measles Vaccines?

And we likely won’t be able to eradicate measles with our current measles vaccine, “even though measles can be controlled, and even eliminated in some regions for defined periods of time.”

“Thus, while an excellent vaccine, a dilemma remains.”

Poland et al on The Re-Emergence of Measles in Developed Countries: Time to Develop the Next-Generation Measles Vaccines?

The dilemma is that measles is still around and that people who are too young to be vaccinated, too young to be fully vaccinated, and those with immune system problems who can’t be vaccinated sometimes get measles, in addition to folks who are intentionally unvaccinated.

With a better vaccine, fewer people would get caught up in outbreaks that are typically triggered by folks who are intentionally unvaccinated.

Remember, most outbreaks are traced back to someone who is unvaccinated. This is the person Dr. Poland is describing when he says “once measles is introduced,” as the endemic spread of measles has been eliminated in the United States. All cases are reintroduced from outside the country, typically when someone who is intentionally not vaccinated travels overseas and then returns with measles while they are still contagious.

“But he also said that sometimes people who oppose the vaccines will pick out one sentence in the scientific study and extrapolate it to mean things that it does not mean… He said that measles is the most contagious disease that we know, and yet we found that fear and ignorance is more so.”

Senator Carla Nelson on The Anti-vaxxers Might Wish that What was Lost had not been Found

Unfortunately, a better measles vaccine still won’t protect us from anti-vaccine propaganda.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary. Get vaccinated and stop the outbreaks. You don’t have to wait for a new measles vaccine…

More on Did Gregory Poland Say That MMR Vaccines Can’t Prevent Measles Outbreaks?