Tag: febrile seizures

Does the MMR Vaccine Cause More Seizures Than Measles?

Why do some parents think that the MMR vaccine causes more seizures than measles?

That's a lot of misinformation about measles in one post...
That’s a lot of misinformation about measles in one post…

Because that’s the latest propaganda that they are seeing in anti-vaccine groups on Facebook

Does the MMR Vaccine Cause More Seizures Than Measles?

The MMR vaccine doesn’t cause seizures in 1 in 640 children…

Posts like this about seizures and the MMR vaccine are why folks are reporting anti-vaccine Facebook groups for Fake News?
Posts like this about seizures and the MMR vaccine are why folks are reporting anti-vaccine Facebook groups for Fake News?

The MMR vaccine doesn’t even cause seizures!

“The MMR vaccine has been associated with a very small risk of febrile seizure as a side effect. Two recent studies indicate that for every 10,000 children who get the MMR and varicella vaccines for their first vaccinations when they are 12–23 months old, about 4 will have a febrile seizure during the 5–12 days following vaccination.”

Understanding the Risk of Febrile Seizures After the First Vaccination at Ages 12–47 Months

It can cause febrile seizures, but even then, it is only at about a rate of 1 in 2500 children after the first dose (0.04%).

Is that “five times the rate from the actual measles infection?”

As I’m sure you are guessing, the answer is obviously no.

Overall, seizures occur in about 0.6% to 0.7% of measles cases!

In addition, actual measles infections can cause non-febrile seizures, which are much more serious than febrile seizures.

Also, measles can cause encephalitis, a life-threatening complication that is often accompanied by seizures.

This is in contrast to simple febrile seizures, which again, are typically considered to be harmless.

More On Seizures from MMR Vs Measles

Vaccine Misinformation from Bob Sears is Not Harmless

The latest from Bob Sears helps illustrate exactly why his vaccine misinformation is far from harmless.

Misinformation about febrile seizures from Bob Sears.
Misinformation about febrile seizures from Bob Sears. He neglects to mention that if fewer kids are vaccinated, more will get vaccine-preventable diseases that actually cause febrile seizures!

What’s he talking about?

Vaccine Misinformation from Bob Sears is Not Harmless

He is talking about a study, Childhood seizures and risk of psychiatric disorders in adolescence and early adulthood: a Danish nationwide cohort study, which looked at “the relation between childhood seizures and the risk of psychiatric disorders in adolescence and early adulthood.”

Wait, so this isn’t a study about vaccines?

No, not directly.

“Children with epilepsy and febrile seizures—with and without concomitant epilepsy—are at increased risk of developing a broad range of psychiatric disorders in later life.”

Dreier et al on Childhood seizures and risk of psychiatric disorders in adolescence and early adulthood: a Danish nationwide cohort study

Vaccines come into the discussion because they are one of the causes of febrile seizures.

Kids are more likely to get a febrile seizure after a natural infection though, including many that are vaccine-preventable, such as the flu, measles, mumps, chicken pox, and pneumococcal disease, etc.

In fact, we have seen a protective effect against febrile seizures caused by rotavirus infections since the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine!

Bob Sears doesn’t mention any of that…

And whether or not febrile seizures can rarely be dangerous and cause long-term harm, we know that vaccine-preventable diseases are life-threatening and their complications can definitely cause long-term harm.

“In our study, we have shown that children with febrile seizures do seem to be at slightly higher risk of developing psychiatric disorders as teenagers and young adults, even in the absence of subsequent epilepsy… We noted that the association with mental illness was strongest in individuals with recurrent febrile seizures and with onset of febrile seizures after the age of 3 years.”

Dreier et al on Childhood seizures and risk of psychiatric disorders in adolescence and early adulthood: a Danish nationwide cohort study

Bob Sears also doesn’t mention that the small extra risk was mostly in kids with complex febrile seizures, which aren’t as common as the single, simple febrile seizures that most kids get.

Not surprisingly, Bob Sears also doesn’t mention that vaccines typically cause simple febrile seizures.

Misinformation is Not Harmless

The bottom line is that you should be more worried about anti-vaccine misinformation than febrile seizures…

Instead of being worried about your child getting a febrile seizure after the MMR vaccine, you should be even more concerned about febrile seizures, epilepsy, encephalitis, SSPE, and death after a natural measles infection.

Anti-vaccine misinformation is not harmless.

If you knew that skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines could put them at increased risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease and THAT would increase your child’s risk of febrile seizures and a host of lifelong mental health disorders, would you have wanted your doctor to warn you about that risk?

“This means for the average pediatrician, who may care for 1000 children younger than 5 including 3 to 500 between 6 and 24 months of age annually, one could expect to see at most 1 child who experiences a febrile seizure every 5 to 10 years due to administration of these vaccines together in the first 2 years of life. This would be in addition to the 30 to 75 patients in each birth year cohort in a practice that would experience a febrile seizure from other causes given the background rate of 2% to 5%.”

Sawyer et al on Vaccines and Febrile Seizures: Quantifying the Risk

Learn about the true risks of vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, the benefits of vaccines, and the risks of skipping or delaying any vaccines as you make a truly informed choice about vaccinating and protecting your kids.

More on Vaccine Misinformation from Bob Sears is Not Harmless

Should Parents Be Concerned About Combination Vaccines and Febrile Seizures?

Anti-vaccine folks have parents worried about everything and anything having to do with vaccines these days.

Unlike most of the ideas that anti-vaxxers push, febrile seizures really can occur after vaccines. Fortunately, they aren’t something to be worried about.

Should Parents Be Concerned About Combination Vaccines and Febrile Seizures?

While febrile seizures can be scary, it is important to know that without other risk factors, kids who develop febrile seizures after a vaccine are at the same small risk for developing epilepsy as other kids.

And know that vaccines aren’t the only cause of febrile seizures. Vaccine-preventable diseases can cause both febrile seizures and more serious non-febrile seizures.

What about the extra risk of febrile seizures following combination vaccines?

“Studies have shown a small increased risk for febrile seizures during the 5 to 12 days after a child has received their first vaccination with the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. The risk is slightly higher with the measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (MMRV) combination vaccine, but the risk is still small. Studies have not shown an increased risk for febrile seizures after the separate varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.”

Childhood Vaccines and Febrile Seizures

The small extra risk of febrile seizures for the measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (MMRV) combination vaccine vs the separate MMR and chicken pox vaccines is just for the first dose of these vaccines, so pediatricians and parents might choose to give the separate vaccines instead. And only use this combination vaccine for the second dose.

Are any other combination vaccines a concern for febrile seizures?

Nope, even though some anti-vaccine sites push that idea and that vaccines can cause epilepsy.

Parents will likely be reassured by one of the studies that anti-vaccine folks like to cite, which states that “vaccination with DTaP-IPV-Hib was not associated with an increased risk of epilepsy.”

We do know that there is a small increased risk for febrile seizures when the influenza vaccine is given at the same time as either the Prevnar13 vaccine or the DTaP vaccine, although “the risk of febrile seizure with any combination of these vaccines is small and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) does not recommend getting any of these vaccines on separate days.”

Is the risk really small though?

After all, an article by Sheri A Marino talks about a 6-fold extra risk in some cases.

Isn’t that a lot?

“Does this mean we should stop giving these vaccines together or stop giving them at all? We say, emphatically, no. With the results of this study, we can accurately calculate the risks and benefits of this practice. The risk is 1 febrile seizure per pediatric practice every 5 to 10 years. Febrile seizures, although frightening to parents, rarely have any long-term sequelae. The benefits of giving these vaccines simultaneously include decreased office visits associated with painful vaccines, decreased episodes of vaccine-associated fussiness, and, most important, the assurance that children will be fully immunized and protected from infections that carry real morbidity and mortality. It is well established that the vaccines we miss when we fail to give all the vaccines we can (simultaneously at each health care visit) may never be administered to some children, thus leaving them at risk for the diseases the vaccines prevent. It goes without saying that influenza, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and pneumococcal infections may result in serious illness. These infections also have the potential to cause fevers and febrile seizures. Without vaccines to prevent these illnesses, pediatricians would see many more than 1 case of most of these infections each decade. In fact, they would see children in their practices with both febrile seizures and life-threatening infections. The risk from these diseases far outweighs the risk from the vaccines.”

Sawyer et al on Vaccines and Febrile Seizures: Quantifying the Risk

Because the risk of febrile seizures is so small, it remains small even with any extra risk.

What’s more concerning? The risks of following anti-vaccine propaganda and leaving your kids unvaccinated and unprotected.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary.

More on Vaccines and Febrile Seizures

Everything You Need to Know About the Measles Vaccine

The measles vaccine is one of the most effective vaccines we have.

It is also one of the safest, having very few serious side effects.

Everything You Need to Know About the Measles Vaccine

So why are some parents still afraid to allow their kids to get vaccinated and protected, putting them at risk to get measles, a life-threatening disease?

“Existing evidence on the safety and effectiveness of MMR vaccine supports current policies of mass immunisation aimed at global measles eradication and in order to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with mumps and rubella.”

Cochrane Systematic Review on Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children

Let’s see if you still are after we get all of your questions about the measles vaccine answered…

Schools in California were closed for at least two weeks in 1917 because of measles epidemics.
Schools in California were closed for at least two weeks in 1917 because of measles epidemics.
  1. How long has the measles vaccine been around? The very first measles vaccine was licensed by John Enders in 1963. An improved measles vaccine was developed by Maurice Hilleman and licensed in 1968, and that is the measles vaccine that we still use today, at least in the United States. It was combined into the MMR vaccine in 1971.
  2. How effective is the measles vaccine? A single dose of the measles vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing a measles infection. Two doses (the second dose was added to the routine immunization schedule in 1994) are up to 97% effective. That’s why almost all of the people who get measles in an outbreak are unvaccinated.
  3. How long does immunity from the measles vaccine last? Immunity from the measles vaccine is thought to be life-long. It is important to understand that the second dose isn’t a booster dose, but is instead for those few folks who don’t respond to the first dose.
  4. Who should get the measles vaccine? Everyone without a true medical contraindication should get the measles vaccine (MMR), with the first dose at 12-15 months and a second dose at 4-6 years.
  5. Can my kids get their measles vaccine early? An advanced immunization schedule is available for kids in an outbreak or if they will be traveling out of the country. The first dose can be given as early as age 6-months, but is repeated when the child is 12 months because of concerns of interference with maternal antibodies. The official second dose can be given early too, as early as 4 weeks after the first dose, as long as the child is at least 12 months old.
  6. Do I need a booster dose of the measles vaccine? People who are fully immunized do not need a booster dose of the MMR vaccine, but it is important to understand whether or not you are really fully immunized to see if you need a second dose. Some adults who are not high risk are considered fully vaccinated with only one dose, while others should have two doses. Are you at high risk to get measles? Do you travel, live in an area where there are measles outbreaks, go to college, or work as a health care professional?
  7. Should I check my measles titers? In general, it is not necessary to check your titers for measles. If you haven’t had two doses of the MMR vaccine, then get a second dose. If you have had two doses of the MMR vaccine, then you are considered protected. Keep in mind that there is no recommendation to get a third dose of MMR for measles protection, although it is sometimes recommended for mumps protection during a mumps outbreak.
  8. If my child gets a rash after getting his MMR, does that mean that he has measles? No. This is a common, very mild vaccine reaction and not a sign of measles.
  9. Can the measles vaccine cause seizures? The MMR vaccine can cause febrile seizures. It is important to remember that without other risk factors, kids who develop febrile seizures after a vaccine are at the same small risk for developing epilepsy as other kids. And know that vaccines aren’t the only cause of febrile seizures. Vaccine-preventable diseases can cause both febrile seizures and more serious non-febrile seizures.
  10. Why do people think that that the measles vaccine is associated with autism? It is well known that this idea originated with Andrew Wakefield, but the real question should be why do some people still think that vaccines are associated with autism after so much evidence has said that they aren’t?
  11. What are the risks of the measles vaccine? Like other vaccines, the MMR vaccine has mild risks or side effects, including fever, rash, and soreness at the injection site. Some more moderate reactions that can rarely occur include febrile seizures, joint pain, and a temporary low platelet count. More serious reactions are even rarer, but can include deafness, long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness, brain damage, and life-threatening allergic reactions.
  12. Why are there so many reports of measles vaccine deaths? There are extremely few deaths after vaccines. The reports of measles vaccine deaths you see on the Internet are just reports to VAERS and are not actually reports that have been proven to be caused by a vaccine. As with other vaccines, the risks from having a vaccine-preventable disease are much greater than the risks of the vaccine. The only reason that it might not seem like that now is because far fewer people get measles now than they did in the pre-vaccine era, when about 500 people died with measles each year.
  13. When did they take mercury out of the measles vaccine? Measles vaccines, including the MMR, have never, ever contained mercury or thimerosal.
  14. Why do we still have outbreaks if we have had a measles vaccine since 1963? In the United States, although the endemic spread of measles was declared eliminated in 2000, many cases are still imported from other countries. As measles cases increase around the world, that is translating to an increase in outbreaks here. Even though overall vaccination rates are good, because there are many pockets of susceptible people in areas that don’t vaccinate their kids, they get hit with outbreaks.
  15. Can we eradicate measles? Because measles is so contagious, the vaccine does have failures, and some folks still don’t get vaccinated, there is some doubt that we can eradicate measles without a better vaccine. That doesn’t mean that the current measles vaccines can’t prevent outbreaks though…

Are you ready to get your kids their MMR vaccine so that they are vaccinated and protected against measles, mumps, and rubella?

If not, what other questions do you have?

While you are thinking, here is a question for you – Do know why they used to call measles a harmless killer?

More on the Everything You Need to Know About the Measles Vaccine