Tag: exemptions

Can Vaccinated Children Be Asymptomatic Carriers of Pertussis?

Why do anti-vaccine folks like to talk about baboons so much?

“Did you know that a study showed that baboons injected with whooping cough vaccine became infected with whooping cough anyway – and silently spread the disease to other baboons for 35 days?”

Anti-vaccine Meme

Is it because baboons are used in the study of vaccines?

That’s part of it, at least when they can find a study where they can cherry pick the results to suit their needs.

The Baboon Study

Like most anti-vaccine talking points, this one about baboons, has some truth to it.

An adult male baboon.
An adult male baboon. Photo by Elizabeth Miller

There was a baboon study with the pertussis vaccine and it found that previously vaccinated baboons could develop asymptomatic carriage of the pertussis bacteria after they were intentionally infected.

Here is where it is important to note that an infection is different than a disease.

The example that many people are familiar with is tuberculosis. It is common to have a TB infection without any signs or symptoms and to not feel sick. The only reason we know that they have TB is because they had a positive TB test.

Unfortunately, about 5 to 10% of these people with TB infections can eventually develop TB disease, with coughing, weight loss, night sweats, fever, and chest pain, etc.

It is kind of the same with the baboons in the study. Twenty-four hours after two previously vaccinated baboons were inoculated with pertussis bacteria in the back of their nose and trachea, an unvaccinated baboon was put in each of their cages.

The vaccinated baboons continued to have pertussis bacteria in their noses, which the researchers had put there, for up to 35 days. And they were able to eventually pass the pertussis bacteria to the unvaccinated baboons in their cages. Vaccinated baboons also became infected or colonized after they were put in a cage with an intentionally infected unvaccinated baboon.

“…animals did not cough and showed no reduction of activity, loss of appetite, or other outward signs of disease.”

Warfel et al on Acellular pertussis vaccines protect against disease but fail to prevent infection and transmission in a nonhuman primate model

The vaccinated baboons were infected, but they never did develop symptoms of pertussis.

What Does The Baboon Study Mean?

One thing that is for sure – the baboon study found that the pertussis vaccines work. Only unvaccinated baboons got sick with pertussis.

But does this study explain our current outbreaks of pertussis?

Are vaccinated people becoming colonized and then getting others sick?

I guess it is possible, but we are not baboons in a cage with other baboons. How would we spread a respiratory disease, even if we did become colonized with the bacteria, if we don’t have symptoms?

It may explain part of our outbreaks though.

If vaccinated people do commonly become colonized with pertussis bacteria, then they might very well test positive for pertussis even though they don’t have symptomatic pertussis disease. So when they develop a cold or bronchitis and are found to have a positive pertussis test, then couldn’t that test just indicate that they have a pertussis infection and not disease, even though something else is actually causing their symptoms?

That’s what we think happens with strep carriers, right?

That’s kind of what the baboon study found. All of the baboons tested positive, but only the unvaccinated baboons had symptomatic pertussis disease.

“Baboons vaccinated with wP vaccines exhibit a level of protection that is intermediate between convalescent animals and aP-vaccinated animals. They exhibit no outwards signs of disease and are initially colonized to the same high level as aP-vaccinated animals but clear the infection more rapidly.”

Pinto et al on Pertussis disease and transmission and host responses: insights from the baboon model of pertussis.

It is interesting to note that the baboon study also found that baboons who had received whole cell pertussis vaccines also became carriers. They just didn’t stay carriers for as long as the baboons who got the newer acellular pertussis vaccine. But since they were still carriers, if asymptomatic transmission is such a big problem, wouldn’t it have been a big problem back in the day when everyone got whole cell pertussis vaccines?

The Debate Over Asymptomatic Carriage

Most vaccines prevent the spread of disease.

Do the pertussis vaccines?

Most folks still think so.

“The baboon model pioneered by Warfel et al. is without question a game-changer, shedding light on the impact of vaccination on disease and infection. However, the view it affords is clearer with respect to immunity and pathology than with respect to transmission. We point out that the extrapolation of the possibility of transmission from vaccinated baboons in the laboratory to the probability of transmission from vaccinated humans in the population is unwarranted. More work is needed to elucidate the relative transmissibility of infections in vaccinated vs. unvaccinated hosts. The evidence adduced above suggests, however, that vaccination with aP must have a strong effect on transmission as well as disease.”

Matthieu Domenech de Cellès et al on Epidemiological evidence for herd immunity induced by acellular pertussis vaccines

Even the author of the baboon study has said that “We agree that these data should not be directly extrapolated to pertussis transmission in humans. Although baboons are >96% genetically similar to humans, there are likely differences in how the species respond to vaccination and infection. We also agree that aP-vaccinated infected people are likely less efficient at transmitting pertussis compared with unvaccinated infected people, although it is not clear to what extent.”

Others think that asymptomatic carriage of pertussis might behind a lot of our recent outbreaks. Or at least what helps them grow so large.

Still, it is important to remember that unvaccinated folks do play a role in these outbreaks too. In a pertussis outbreak at a Florida preschool, in which most kids were vaccinated, the outbreak was started by a vaccine-exempt toddler.

And we have seen this in many other areas and it has been confirmed by many studies. Whatever else is contributing to pertussis outbreaks, like waning immunity, they are also associated with vaccine refusal.

“Counties with higher exemption rates had higher rates of reported pertussis among exempted and vaccinated children when compared with the low-exemption counties.”

Imdad et al. on Religious exemptions for immunization and risk of pertussis in New York State, 2000-2011.

But what if the DTaP and Tdap vaccines do cause folks to be asymptomatic carriers?

Even if that is true, understand that these vaccines don’t actually infect you, making you a carrier. They just might not prevent you from becoming a carrier if you are exposed to someone else with pertussis. While that might be a good reason to develop a new and better pertussis vaccine, it certainly isn’t a reason to skip or delay your child’s vaccines now.

Remember that even with our current outbreaks, rates of pertussis were much higher in the pre-vaccine era.

What to Know About Vaccines and Asymptomatic Carriers of Pertussis

The role of asymptomatic carriers and pertussis is controversial, but it certainly isn’t a reason to skip or delay your child’s vaccines.

More on the Vaccines and Asymptomatic Carriers of Pertussis

8 Myths About Pediatricians Who Fire Families Who Don’t Vaccinate Their Kids

What actually happens when a pediatrician has a vaccine policy that requires parents to vaccinate their kids or face dismissal from the practice?

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of myths about the controversial issue of pediatricians dismissing families who don’t vaccinate their kids.

1 ) It is a myth that the American Academy of Pediatrics has a policy encouraging pediatricians to dismiss families who don’t vaccinate their kids.

There is no such policy.

Instead, in 2016, about 400 leaders from AAP chapters, committees, councils, and sections voted on a resolution at the 2016 AAP Annual Leadership Forum (ALF) to support pediatricians who dismissed families who didn’t vaccinate their kids.

RESOLVED, that the Academy support, in their policy statements and clinical guidelines about immunizations, pediatricians who decide to discharge patients after a reasonable, finite amount of time working with parents who refuse to immunize their children according to the recommended schedule or who fail to abide by an agreed-upon, recommended catch-up schedule, and be it further RESOLVED, that the Academy continue to support pediatricians who continue to provide health care to children of parents who refuse to immunize their children.

Resolution #80.81SB Supporting Pediatricians Who Discharge Families Who Refuse to Immunize

The resolution also voiced support for pediatricians who didn’t dismiss these patients.

2)  It is a myth that pediatricians dismissing families who don’t vaccinate their kids is a new thing.

Although it is getting a lot more attention now, since that 2016 resolution and a report on Countering Vaccine Hesitancy that soon followed, dismissing or firing families who don’t vaccinate their kids is not new.

A 2005 AAP report, Responding to Parental Refusals of Immunization of Children, discusses the issue.

“In general, pediatricians should avoid discharging patients from their practices solely because a parent refuses to immunize his or her child. However, when a substantial level of distrust develops, significant differences in the philosophy of care emerge, or poor quality of communication persists, the pediatrician may encourage the family to find another physician or practice.”

Responding to Parental Refusals of Immunization of Children

And a study, Dismissing the Family Who Refuses Vaccines, also published in 2005, made it clear that many pediatricians “would discontinue care for families refusing some or all vaccines.”

3)  It is a myth that dismissing families who don’t vaccinate their kids is an evidence based policy.

There is nothing beyond anecdotal evidence that families, when faced with the decision of getting vaccinated or getting dismissed from an office, will choose to get vaccinated.

Again, the latest resolution supporting the idea of dismissing families came because it was voted on and became an official Annual Leadership Forum resolution. In general, only the top 10 ALF resolutions are acted upon urgently by the AAP.

At the time, many pediatricians felt constrained by the previous statements from the AAP that discouraged dismissing these families.

4)  It is a myth that pediatricians dismiss families who don’t vaccinate their kids because they don’t want to be bothered talking about vaccine safety.

Although few pediatricians would want to talk to a parent who is arguing that vaccines are poison, aren’t necessary, and never work, fortunately, most vaccine-hesitant parents don’t actually talk like that. They are usually on the fence or simply scared because of all of the anti-vaccine propaganda they are exposed to and need a little extra time to understand that vaccines are safe and necessary.

A typical vaccine policy gives a parent plenty of time to get their child caught up on vaccines before they might be dismissed from the office.
A typical vaccine policy gives a parent plenty of time to get their child caught up on vaccines before they might be dismissed from the office.

And most pediatricians give them that extra time and do talk to them about their concerns. Despite the perception from some of the headlines you might see, families typically don’t get fired after one visit because they refused one or more vaccines.

5) Pediatricians who don’t dismiss unvaccinated families are supporting the use of alternative vaccine schedules.

While this is certainly true for some providers who actually advertise that they are “vaccine-friendly” and encourage parents to follow a non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedule, most others understand that there is no evidence to support these alternative schedules and they are simply tolerated until the child can get caught-up with all of his vaccines.

6) It is illegal to dismiss a family who doesn’t want to vaccinate their kids.

While some pediatricians think that it is a bit of an ethical dilemma, the legal issues are very clear.

Physicians can’t simply abandon a patient so that they go without care, but they are typically free to end the physician-patient relationship after giving them formal, written notification, and continuing to provide care (at least in emergency situations) for a reasonable amount of time, giving the family time to find a new physician.

Of course, state and federal civil rights laws protect families from being terminated because of sex, color, creed, race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, national origin, or sexual orientation.

7)  It is a myth that dismissing families who don’t vaccinate their kids will protect those families who do vaccinate and protect their kids.

This is often the main reason that pediatricians use to justify dismissing families who don’t vaccinate their kids. After all, it isn’t fair to the families who come to your office, those who do get vaccinated and protected, if someone who is intentionally not vaccinated gets measles and exposes them all, right?

There seem to be several problems with this idea though:

  • relatively few exposures during outbreaks actually occur in a pediatrician’s office. Looking at most recent measles outbreaks, for example, exposures were more likely to occur while traveling out of the country, in an urgent care center, emergency room, somewhere in the community, or in their own home.
  • infants who get pertussis are usually exposed by a family member
  • while measles is very contagious and the virus can linger in an exam room for hours, other vaccine-preventable diseases are far less contagious. Mumps, for example, typically requires prolonged, close contact, which is why you are unlikely to get mumps at your pediatrician’s office.
  • when dismissed by their pediatrician, there is a concern that families might cluster together in the offices of a vaccine-friendly doctor or holistic pediatrician, making it more likely for outbreaks to erupt in their community if any of them get sick

And that’s the key point. Just because families get dismissed from a pediatrician’s office, it doesn’t mean that they leave the community. Your patients might still see them at daycare, school, at the grocery store, or walking down their street.

Pediatricians who don’t dismiss families who don’t vaccinate their kids often feel that it is better to keep working to help them understand that vaccines are safe and necessary, so that they eventually do get vaccinated and protected.

What about the extra risk in their own offices?

With RSV, strep, cold viruses, and everything else that kids have in the average pediatrician’s office, it is best to take steps to reduce the chances that kids are exposed to all of them. How do you do that? Don’t have a waiting room full of kids that are exposing each other to germs!

8) Most families don’t vaccinate their kids because they don’t trust their pediatrician.

While this is likely true for some, those families who want to see a pediatrician and don’t refuse any other treatments, like their newborn’s vitamin K shot and eye ointment, likely do trust their pediatrician.

Then why don’t they vaccinate and protect their kids?

“In today’s world, smallpox has been eradicated due to a successful vaccination program and vaccines have effectively controlled many other significant causes of morbidity and mortality. Consequently, fear has shifted from many vaccine-preventable diseases to fear of the vaccines.”

Marian Siddiqui et al on the Epidemiology of vaccine hesitancy in the United States

They are likely afraid.

What are they afraid of?

More and more these day, if you ask them, they will likely tell you that they don’t know. It would be much easier if they were afraid of something specific, like the myth that a baby’s immune system is too immature to handle any vaccines, that there are hidden ingredients in vaccines, or that vaccines are somehow associated with autism.

You can answer specific questions about vaccines, but it is harder when they are afraid because they see anecdotal vaccine scare videos or because friends and family members are feeding them misinformation.

“With all the challenges acknowledged, the single most important factor in getting parents to accept vaccines remains the one-on-one contact with an informed, caring, and concerned pediatrician.”

“…nearly half of parents who were initially vaccine hesitant ultimately accepted vaccines after practitioners provided a rationale for vaccine administration.”

“Developing a trusting relationship with parents is key to influencing parental decision-making around vaccines.”

“Pediatricians should keep in mind that many, if not most, vaccine-hesitant parents are not opposed to vaccinating their children; rather, they are seeking guidance about the issues involved, beginning with the complexity of the schedule and the number of vaccines proposed.”

“Because most parents agree to vaccinate their children, this dialogue, which can be started as early as the prenatal interview visit if possible, should be an ongoing process.”

AAP on Countering Vaccine Hesitancy

Whatever their vaccine policy, pediatricians should all work to counter vaccine misinformation and propaganda, so that our families get vaccinated and protected and our communities are safe.

It is also clear that we need new ways to talk about vaccines.

And we definitely new more ways to help everyone learn to think critically, be more skeptical about the things they see and read, and overcome their biases.

What to Know About Pediatricians Who Discharge Families Who Refuse to Immunize Their Kids

Whether they have a vaccine policy that dismisses families who don’t vaccinate their kids or they continue seeing them, pediatricians want to do what is best for their kids.

More on Pediatricians Who Discharge Families Who Refuse to Immunize Their Kids

When Friends Disagree About Vaccines

If Facebook has taught us anything, it is that we aren’t going to agree with all of our friends about everything.

It is easy to think that your friends and family have very similar opinions as your own, especially about things like politics and religion, but only when you don’t actually talk about them.

But then you see your friends like, share, or post something that totally catches you by surprise…

What Do Your Friends Think About Vaccines?

What do you do when that surprise is that your friend or family member is anti-vaccine?

Is that something you would agree to disagree about, try to change their mind, or would it lead to the loss of a friendship? After all, it’s one thing if you are vegan and your baby is going to get exposed to eating meat when you go visit the home of a friend who is a carnivore, and quite another if she might get exposed to measles or chickenpox because they don’t believe in vaccines.

“I also warn them not to share their fears with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”

Dr. Bob Sears in The Vaccine Book

But if your kids are vaccinated, why would you even be concerned about whether or not your friends vaccinate their own kids?

Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment "Vaccines: A Bad Combination?"
Bob Sears warned folks not to share their fears of vaccines and try to hide in the herd so we didn’t see outbreaks. I wonder if he knew it might lead to a loss of friendships too…

Because your vaccinated kids are still at risk. Remember, even if your child does not have any chronic illnesses or problems with their immune system, there is the fact that kids aren’t at least partially protected against:

  • pertussis until after the third dose of DTaP at six months
  • the flu until after getting a first flu shot at six months, keeping in mind that they are actually going to need a second flu shot for full protection, since it is the first time that they are being vaccinated against influenza
  • measles, mumps, and chicken pox until they get their first dose of MMR and the chicken pox vaccine when they are 12 months old

And then, even with later booster doses of vaccines, since vaccines aren’t 100% effective, many people don’t want to take an extra risk and spend time around someone who is intentionally unprotected and at higher risk to get sick, who can then expose their kids to a vaccine-preventable diseases.

Can Your Friendship Survive the Vaccine Wars?

Friends don’t have to agree on everything.

Still, you might be more likely to lose a friend over vaccines if they are intentionally not vaccinating their kids and:

  • believe that vaccines are full of toxins
  • believe that unvaccinated kids are healthier than those who are vaccinated
  • believe that vaccines don’t ever work
  • believe that vaccine-preventable diseases are mild and can be cured with natural remedies
  • believe that they need to avoid recently vaccinated kids because they might be shedding
  • believe that vaccines are associated with autism, SIDS, and other so-called vaccine-induced diseases

Why?

It’s one thing if they are on the fence or a little scared by the myths and propaganda they see on the Internet and another if they are one of the folks helping spread that misinformation about vaccines.

What to Know About Friends and Family Disagreeing About Vaccines

Are you friends with anyone who intentionally chooses to skip or delay their child’s vaccines?

More on Friends and Family Disagreeing About Vaccine

Do Vaccine Mandates Force Parents to Vaccinate Their Kids?

Listening to some parents talk about new vaccine laws, you would think that pediatricians are going to start kidnapping babies or simply hold them down to force them to get vaccinated and follow the latest immunization schedule.

Is there any truth to that?

Of course not.

The History of Vaccine Mandates

There have been vaccine mandates in the United States since 1827, when Boston became the first city to require all children attending public schools to be vaccinated against smallpox.

Surprisingly though, it took a long time to get vaccine mandates protecting more children. It wasn’t until the 1980-81 school year that there were laws in all 50 states mandating that children required vaccinations before starting school.

This followed continued measles outbreaks in the mid-1970s and studies showing that states with vaccine mandates had much lower rates of measles than states that didn’t. And it likely explains why there were 10 measles deaths in the United States as late as 1980, even though the first measles vaccine was introduced in 1963.

It took even longer for the vaccine mandates to cover kids in all grades and not just those entering school, to cover kids in daycare, and to cover kids in college. And tragically, it didn’t take long for politicians to chip away at those vaccine mandates. Over just a few years, from 1998 to 2000, 15 states added personal belief vaccine exemptions.

Still, even before the addition of personal belief vaccine exemptions and without the abuse of religious exemptions and medical exemptions, vaccine mandates have never equaled forced vaccination.

Even the Vaccination Act of 1853 in the UK, which required everyone to get a small pox vaccine, didn’t actually force them to get vaccinated. It originally levied fines on people until they got the vaccine, but they soon allowed a conscientious exemption to vaccination, which many people took advantage of. Over the years, so many people were claiming conscientious vaccine exemptions in the UK, that in 1946, they repealed their vaccine requirements altogether.

What Is a Vaccine Mandate?

Since a mandate is typically defined as an official order to do something, a vaccine mandate would be an order to get a vaccine. But it is hardly an order to hold down and force a vaccine on someone.

Likewise, state laws that mandate vaccines aren’t forcing kids to get vaccinated. They are typically mandates to get vaccinated before attending daycare, public and private schools, and/or college.

Is your child going to camp this year? They might mandate certain vaccines if kids want to attend.

Do Vaccine Mandates Force Parents to Vaccinate Their Kids?

Do vaccine mandates take away a person’s choice about getting vaccinated?

Anti-vaccine folks go to great lengths to scare you into thinking that someone is going to force you to vaccinate your kids. They aren't...
Anti-vaccine folks go to great lengths to scare you into thinking that someone is going to force you to vaccinate your kids. They aren’t…

Of course not.

Again. We are not talking about forced vaccination.

For example, if you work in a hospital that requires a yearly flu vaccine, you can decide to work somewhere else. Sure, you no longer simply have the choice between getting vaccinated or leaving yourself unprotected and continuing to work at the same job, but you can still decide to skip the vaccine and look for another job.

These are mandates with a choice.

The same is true with vaccine mandates for kids to attend school or daycare. If you choose to skip one or more vaccines for a non-medical reason, then even if you are in a state that doesn’t allow religious or philosophical vaccine exemptions, you won’t be forced to get vaccinated. While it may not be an option you are happy with, homeschooling is an option for those who don’t want to vaccinate their kids.

That is your vaccine choice.

Public education is a benefit of those who comply with mandates or compulsory vaccination laws.

These state immunization laws and vaccine mandates have nothing to do with forced vaccination. They also don’t take away your informed consent, are not against the Nuremberg Code, and are not unconstitutional.

Have kids ever been forced to get vaccinations?

Not routinely, but there have been cases of health officials getting court orders to get kids vaccinated and protected, usually during outbreaks of a vaccine-preventable disease.

In 1991, for example, a judge ruled that parents of unvaccinated children who were members of the Faith Tabernacle Congregation in Pennsylvania had to get a measles vaccine. As a measles outbreak spread through Faith Tabernacle, an associated church, and the rest of the city, there were at least 486 cases of measles in the church, mostly among children, and 6 deaths.

“Parents are free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow that they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves.”

Prince v. Massachusetts

In addition to being unvaccinated, these children didn’t get any medical care, as their families instead relied on prayer. Finally, after the order was appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court, only nine children got vaccinated.

When parents disagree about vaccines, a judge might also step in decide that a child be vaccinated over one parent’s objections. A child might also get vaccinated against their parents wishes if they have lost custody for reasons that have nothing to do with the child’s medical issues and so a legal guardian, which might be the state, is making those decisions now.

Still, these are not the usual circumstances we are talking about with state vaccine laws. They are simply laws to get kids vaccinated and protected before they are allowed to attend daycare or school.

What to Know About Vaccine Mandates and Forced Vaccinations

Vaccine mandates do not force parents to vaccinate their kids.

More on Vaccine Mandates and Forced Vaccinations

 

When Parents Disagree About Vaccines

Parents likely aren’t going to agree on every single decision about their kids.

This is especially true when parents actually have different parenting styles.

Whether it is about discipline techniques, what time the kids should go to bed, or how much allowance they should get, disagreements are bound to come up at some point if both parents are actively involved in parenting.

What Does Your Significant Other Think About Vaccines?

What happens if you disagree about vaccines?

Do you even know what your SO thinks about vaccines?

  • Does your SO ever talk about a Big Pharma conspiracy?
  • Do they buy into the myths that vaccines are full of toxins or that they don’t even work?
  • Are they afraid that vaccines will damage your baby in some way?
  • Instead of going to the doctor when they are sick, do they instead grab some essential oils and head to their chiropractor, acupuncturist, and a naturopath?

Ideally, like most other parenting issues, you would have had a talk about vaccines way before you started planning a family and you would know what your significant other thinks.

Unfortunately, we often hear about disagreements about vaccines after a couple already has a baby.

In some cases, they not only have kids, but have already split up. Then, in addition to fighting about child support, visitation schedules, and who gets the house, you might have separated or divorced parents trying to convince a judge that only one of them should be allowed to make vaccination decisions.

That could mean that an unvaccinated child gets vaccinated over one parent’s objections or that a child stays unvaccinated, even though the other parent wants him to be vaccinated and protected.

When Parents Disagree About Vaccines

While it is hard to know the best thing to do in this situation, there is one thing that you absolutely shouldn’t do.

Don't get your child secretly vaccinated if your SO is opposed to vaccines.
Don’t get your child secretly vaccinated if your SO is opposed to vaccines.

Don’t vaccinate your child behind the other parent’s back.

Instead, help them understand that vaccines work and are safe and necessary.

What if they still don’t agree?

Ask what exactly they are worried about and make sure to get them answers for those specific concerns. It might also help to have them come to your next appointment and talk to your doctor.

Can you just agree to disagree about vaccines? I guess, as long as the one who didn’t get their way is going to agree to not be upset about it. If that’s the parent who wanted their child vaccinated, then that also means their is child is left at risk for getting a vaccine-preventable disease while they try to “hide in the herd.”

Can they just compromise?

While there is no benefit to skipping or delaying any vaccines over being fully vaccinated and protected, it is better than being unvaccinated. Hopefully, learning to compromise and lots of counseling can get you both to where you aren’t in a situation when a judge makes your vaccination decisions for you.

What to Know When Parents Disagree About Vaccines

It is best to know what your partner thinks about vaccines before you start planning on having kids.

More on When Parents Disagree About Vaccines

How Can the Unvaccinated Spread Diseases They Don’t Have?

Folks who are intentionally unvaccinated often have a hard time understanding why the rest of us might be a little leery of being around them.

That’s especially true if we have a new baby in the house, younger kids who aren’t fully vaccinated and protected, or anyone with a chronic medical condition who can’t be vaccinated.

Why? Of course, it is because we don’t want them to catch measles, pertussis, or other vaccine-preventable diseases.

“How can you spread a disease that you don’t even have?”

It’s true, you can’t spread a disease that you don’t have.

But infectious diseases don’t magically appear inside our bodies – we catch them from other people. And if you have skipped or delayed a vaccine, then you have a much higher chance of getting a vaccine-preventable disease than someone who is vaccinated and protected.

So, just avoid other people when you are sick, right?

“…the increased risk of disease in the pediatric population, in part because of increasing rates of vaccine refusal and in some circumstances more rapid loss of immunity, increases potential exposure of immunodeficient children.”

Medical Advisory Committee of the Immune Deficiency Foundation

That works great in theory, but since you are often contagious before you show signs and symptoms and know that you are sick, you can very easily spread a disease that you don’t even know that you have.

An infant hospitalized during a measles outbreak in the Philippines in which 110 people died.
Children with measles are contagious 4 days before through 4 days after their rash appears, but you often don’t recognize that it is measles until they get the rash! Photo by Jim Goodson, M.P.H.

There’s the trouble:

  1. being unvaccinated, you or your child are at higher risk to get sick
  2. when you get sick, you can be contagious several days before you have obvious symptoms
  3. you can spread the disease to others before you ever know that you are sick, or at least before you know that you have a vaccine preventable disease

This makes intentionally unvaccinated folks a risk to those who are too young to be vaccinated, are too young to be fully vaccinated, have a true medical exemption to getting vaccinated, or when their vaccine simply didn’t work.

measles-santa-clara-county
Folks with measles often expose a lot of other people because they don’t yet know that they have measles and aren’t showing signs and symptoms yet.

In fact, this is how most outbreaks start. Tragically, kids too young to be vaccinated get caught up in these outbreaks.

Keep in mind that these parents didn’t have a choice about getting them protected yet. Someone who decided to skip their own vaccines made that choice for them.

And remember that while you can’t spread a disease that you don’t even have, you can certainly spread a disease that you don’t realize that you have.

What to Know About The Unvaccinated Spreading Disease

If you aren’t going to get vaccinated or vaccinate your kids, understand the risks and responsibilities, so that you don’t spread a vaccine-preventable diseases to others that you might not even know that you have yet.

More on the Unvaccinated Spreading Disease

The Latest Measles Outbreak in Kansas

Several things are troubling about the measles outbreak in Kansas.

For one thing, it involved a lot of infants who were too young to be vaccinated. Their parents didn’t get to make a choice about getting vaccinated or getting measles. They got measles.

There are at least 18 cases of measles in current Kansas outbreak.
An ongoing measles outbreak in Kansas is up to 18 cases.

Also, as the case count climbs to 18, we are only now learning how the outbreak got started.

 

Greg Lakin, the chief medical officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said the current outbreak started when an infant who was too young to be vaccinated picked up the virus in Asia. That infant then returned to a Johnson County day care.

What You Need to Know About the JoCo Outbreak

But what does too young to be vaccinated mean?

Remember that if you are traveling out of the country, infants should get their first MMR early, as early as six months of age.

Update on the Measles Outbreak in Kansas

Since the outbreak in a daycare in Johnson County was discovered on March 8, a total of 18 measles cases have been identified, including:

  • 14 Johnson County residents, including one new case
  • three Linn County residents, including one new case
  • one Miami County resident not associated with the daycare

The latest cases could have exposed other people to measles at:

  • Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in the Lobby and Sanctuary; 13300 Kenneth Rd., Leawood, KS; April 8 from 10:30 a.m.to 1:30 p.m.
  • Blue Mound Federated Church; General Delivery, Blue Mound, KS; April 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Olathe Health Family Medicine; 302 N.1st St, Mound City, KS; March 26 and 28 from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM
  • Olathe Health Family Medicine; 1017 E. Market St, La Cygne, KS; March 27 from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM, March 29 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, March 30 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and April 2 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Casey’s General Store; 207 S. 9th St, Mound City, KS; March 26 from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM, March 28 from 12:00 PM to 2:30 PM, March 30 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and April 2 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m
  • Casey’s General Store; 406 E. Market St, LaCygne, KS;March 27 from 12:00
    PM to 2:30 PM
  • Linn County Judicial Building; 318 Chestnut St., Mound City, KS; March 30 from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Applebee’s; 16110 W. 135thSt., Olathe, KS; March 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Main Street Liquor; 411 E. Main St., Osawatomie, KS; March 30 from 9:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Dollar General; 110 S. 9thSt., Mound City, KS;March 29 from 5:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Since there is a 10 to 21 day incubation period for measles, all these new cases could have been exposed at:

  • Auburn Pharmacy; 625 E Main. St, Mound City, KS; on March 13th from 4:15 PM to 6:45 PM
  • Aldi’s; 15290 W. 119th St Olathe, KS 66062; on March 2nd from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
  • Payless Discount Foods; 2101 E. Santa Fe St, Olathe, KS; on March 6th from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM
  • El Potro Mexican Café; 602 N Pearl St, Paola, KS on March 7th from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
  • Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas Emergency Department; 5808 W 110th St, Overland Park, KS on March 8th and March 10th in the morning
  • AMC Dine – In Studio 28; 12075 S. Strang Line Rd, Olathe, KS; March 9th from 3:30 PM to 7:30 PM
  • Budget Coin Laundry; 798 E Main St, Gardner, KS; on March 9th from 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM
  • Olathe YMCA swimming pool and locker room; 21400 W. 153rd St, Olathe, KS; on March 10th from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM
  • Bath and Body Works at Legends Outlets; 1803 Village W Pkwy, Kansas City, KS; on March 10th from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
  • Crazy 8 at Legends Outlets; 1843 Village W Pkwy, Kansas City, KS ; on March 10th after 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
  • Orange Leaf; 11524 W 135th St Overland Park, KS; on March 10th from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
  • Chick-fil-A; 12087 S Blackbob Rd, Olathe, KS on March 24th 8:15 PM till Close
  • Olathe YMCA – ENTIRE FACILITY INCLUDING CHILDCARE AREA; 21400 W. 153rd St, Olathe, KS on March 22nd and 23rd from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM
  • Walgreens; 7500 Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO on March 22nd, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
  • Chuck E. Cheese’s; 15225 W 134th Pl, Olathe, KS on March 21st, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

If you were exposed and aren’t immune to measles (two doses of the MMR vaccine provide good protection), then you should watch for signs and symptoms to develop 10 to 21 days after your last exposure (in quarantine).

With the new exposures, that means that we could expect to see new cases associated with this outbreak any time between now and April 29th (the last exposure and the longest incubation period).

A History of Measles Outbreaks in Kansas

Some folks probably recall that this isn’t the first big measles outbreak in Kansas.

One of the largest measles outbreaks of 2014 was in the Kansas City metropolitan area. That year, at least 28 people developed measles, including a newborn who was only two weeks old.

In addition to the outbreak in Kansas City, there was another large outbreak that year in Sedgwick County – Wichita, Kansas.

And like most measles outbreaks, other states were affected too. Someone from Texas developed measles after getting exposed to measles at a softball tournament in Wichita.

More recently, outbreaks in Kansas have included:

  • a suspected case at William Allen White Elementary School in Lyon County, Kansas which has led to the quarantine of unvaccinated students for 3 weeks (2017)
  • a case in Butler County, Kansas. (2017)
  • a case in Sedgwick County, Kansas, a child too young to be vaccinated who may have been exposed at a church. Three other exposed infants who were too young to be vaccinated and who were considered at risk to get measles in this outbreak received immunoglobulin treatment. (2017)
  • a second case in the Wichita, Kansas area, this time in Sedgwick County, with exposures at a church, dental office, elementary school, and multiple stores over at least 3 days. (2017)

Why are there still so many measles outbreaks in Kansas?

Like in other places with outbreaks, it is likely explained by relatively high levels of non-medical exemptions and clusters of unvaccinated children and adults.

Hopefully this outbreak will be a good reminder that vaccines are necessary and everyone will get their kids caught up and protected.

What to Know About the Measles Outbreak in Kansas

Kansas is in the middle of another large measles outbreak and as usual, it is mostly among those who are unvaccinated, including many too young to be vaccinated.

More on the Measles Outbreak in Kansas

Updated on April 21, 2018