Tag: herd immunity

Wakefield’s Mutating Measles and Natural Herd Immunity

Andrew Wakefield is back and warning folks about “mutant measles” and our loss of natural herd immunity.

Andrew Wakefield and Del Bigtree talk about mutating measles and natural herd immunity.

Of course, that isn’t what is causing our record breaking measles outbreaks.

Natural Herd Immunity

Why is he talking about measles this time, besides a new propaganda film he is already pushing?

“We are in a time now when obviously anti-vaxxers are getting blamed for these measles outbreaks here in this country – the biggest measles outbreak since they declared measles to be eradicated from America. But what you had to say was really interesting. First, the only deaths I’ve seen really specifically have been the stewardess in Israel. We hear about she died. She got the measles but she was vaccinated. There was a child, a young man in Europe. He died after having measles. He was vaccinated… What’s happening? Why is the news not talking about how these were vaccinated individuals? What’s happening with measles?”

Del Bigtree on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

He is looking to play the blame game. Measles cases are on the rise and while they aren’t all due to vaccine hesitancy, many are. And that has left anti-vaccine folks looking to shift the blame elsewhere.

And with cases on the rise, we are also seeing measles deaths on the rise. Which has to make you think, has Del Bigtree really only heard of two measles deaths? After all, there have been over a hundred in Europe, including eight measles deaths in Italy alone.

“I guess the question comes down to that poor air stewardess. Did she die because she was vaccinated? That’s a really big question.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Is that really even a question?

A 43-year-old mother of three, died four months after getting measles while working as a flight attendant for El Al, getting exposed on a flight from New York and Israel.

She died because someone exposed her to measles, a life-threatening disease.

“It really is a question of who is to blame, who’s really to blame for the resurgence of measles around the world. Is it those they label anti-vaxxers or is it in fact those responsible for vaccination?”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Hmm, who’s to blame for the outbreaks. Anti-vaxxers or those vaccinating and protecting folks…

Guess who Wakefield is blaming?

“I’ve been studying measles since 1990. It’s something I know something about. As I got into it… I suddenly realized what the problem was and I also realized that they, on the other side, the vaccinologists, the industry, the smart ones, know it. And it’s their greatest fear.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

So what did Wakefield figure out?

This is the consequence of better hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition in the first part of the century and vaccines later on.
This is the consequence of better hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition in the first part of the century and vaccines later on.

He talks about natural herd immunity, shows mortality graphs, and goes on about how measles is most serious in those under one and adults, but is a “trivial disease” in children.

“Nature has constrained the age of exposure to the majority of people getting measles when they are children, because that’s when they can get it safely.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

So by vaccinating people, he argues that we have interrupted the protection you get from natural infections. Adults don’t have lifetime immunity from their childhood infections and infants don’t have the passive immunity they get from their mothers, protecting them when they are most at risk.

He goes so far as to say that measles deaths would have “declined to zero” if we had never vaccinated!

What’s the problem with his theory?

Typical mortality graphs that anti-vax folks use don't tell the whole story...
Typical mortality graphs that anti-vax folks use don’t tell the whole story…

Well, for one thing, why didn’t natural herd immunity protect folks from dying with measles in the early 1900s? Or in the 1950s, when we still had 400 deaths a year in the United States?

Why didn’t natural herd immunity get rid of smallpox or any other disease?

And if we go back to the pre-vaccine era, when everyone got measles, what happens to all those with immune system problems who will almost certainly die if they get exposed to measles? These are the people who rely on herd immunity now, but they will be at big risk in this natural herd immunity model, because it means that millions of kids get measles every year.

Give Another Dose…

What do Wakefield and Del think that our answer will be to the measles outbreaks?

“The only answer they have is to give another dose, and give another dose, and give another dose.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Of course, there are no calls to give “one more in college” and “two more MMR in adulthood” for measles protection as Del Bigtree claims.

In fact, two doses are very effective protection against measles.

“We report a screen of plasma donors confirming that widespread use of childhood measles vaccination since 1963 resulted in a decrease in average measles virus antibody titers among plasma donors, which is reflected in intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIGs).”

Modrof et al on Measles Virus Neutralizing Antibodies in Intravenous Immunoglobulins: Is an Increase by Revaccination of Plasma Donors Possible?

And no, the paper Wakefield talked about doesn’t prove that the MMR vaccine doesn’t work.

“With the success of the measles vaccination program and the ongoing World Health Organization efforts to eliminate and ultimately eradicate measles worldwide, a replacement of the measles virus antibody titer as a functional potency requirement for IVIG seems inevitable in the long term.”

Modrof et al on Measles Virus Neutralizing Antibodies in Intravenous Immunoglobulins: Is an Increase by Revaccination of Plasma Donors Possible?

The article actually talks about how successful the MMR vaccine is and just says that folks who are vaccinated don’t get the extra high levels of antibodies needed to make IVIG, which is used to treat people who are exposed to measles.

That doesn’t mean their vaccine didn’t work though. Many studies have demonstrated an amnestic response after measles vaccination, meaning that antibodies levels rise with any exposure to wild measles virus.

Mutating Measles

Little that Andrew Wakefield or Del Bigtree say in their video on mutating measles is true.

When he finally gets to actually talking about mutating measles, it is about a paper describing a new D4 subgenotype of measles.

Most measles outbreaks are now caused by B3 and D8 measles strains.
Most measles outbreaks are now caused by B3 and D8 measles strains.

A strain for which antigenic shift might have led to resistance to vaccine induced protection, but fortunately, one that is rarely found.

And it isn’t what’s causing our measles outbreaks.

Remember, most people who get measles are unvaccinated.

“It’s that certainty that makes them so dangerous.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Why is Wakefield so certain he is right?

“This is why, when that air hostess, got her vaccine, which she was probably promised, her mother was promised that it would give her protection for life, and it didn’t. She was susceptible again as an adult when it was more serious. So measles vaccination had made what was increasingly a trivial disease in children a much, much more dangerous disease. So who’s responsible for the resurgence of measles? Who’s responsible for the death of that girl?

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Who does he blame for bringing measles back?

Wakefield blames the vaccinologists…

Who's really to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?
Who’s really to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?

How many people still blame Wakefield?

“So the adult population of this country is completely unprotected from measles virus unless you have had a natural infection. Boosting it with vaccination is not going to make any difference and that is an incredibly worrying situation.”

Andrew Wakefield on WAKEFIELD’S WARNING: “MEASLES IS MUTATING”

Just remember, the measles vaccine is very effective, especially when you get two doses. Most of the people who are getting measles are unvaccinated, either intentionally or because of lack of access.

And measles is hardly a trivial disease.

Neither is listening to this kind of anti-vaccine propaganda.

More on Mutating Measles and Natural Herd Immunity

Do Unvaccinated Kids Spread More Disease?

Is this really a question?

Unvaccinated kids do spread more disease than those who are vaccinated and protected.

The assertion, by Rita Palma, that the unvaccinated don’t spread disease any more than the vaccinated is simply absurd.

Do Unvaccinated Kids Spread More Disease?

Before we get to the studies, let’s just think about this for a second.

If you are vaccinated and aren’t getting sick, then how would you spread disease?

And if vaccinated folks spread so much disease, then how do we control and eliminate diseases when vaccination rates are high?

So yes, the consensus thinking would be, of course the unvaccinated spread disease more than the vaccinated!

And not surprisingly, the science confirms that idea:

It is clearly the unvaccinated who are at greater risk to get vaccine-preventable diseases.

And it is clearly the unvaccinated who start and keep most outbreaks going.

And when they spread disease, it is often to those who are most at risk, including those who are too young to be vaccinated or fully vaccinated, and those with true medical exemptions, including cancer and immune system problems.

What else is clear?

Misinformation about vaccines is what likely scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids. Don’t listen to these folks anymore.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

More on Unvaccinated Kids Do Spread More Disease

Update on Vaccine Exemption Rates in California

Vaccination rates in California are dropping.

Wait, what?

Didn’t they recently pass a vaccine law that removed non-medical exemptions? How could vaccination rates be dropping?

Update on Vaccine Exemption Rates in California

While SB 277 did indeed remove all non-medical exemptions to getting vaccinated, some folks found a way around it. Since 2015, when it passed, some doctors are giving kids fake or unnecessary medical exemptions. These extra medical exemptions are likely making up for their previous personal belief vaccine exemptions.

The result?

It isn’t fewer exemptions since 2015.

Explain to me how it is ethical to misrepresent the rates of medical exemptions during a measles outbreak?
Explain to me how it is ethical to misrepresent the rates of medical exemptions during a measles outbreak?

While personal belief exemptions are certainly down, medical exemptions keep going up.

In addition to the 0.9% of medical exemptions, another 1.5% of kids, also up as a percentage, are unvaccinated “for other reasons specified under SB 277.”

There are also about 1.7% of kids in kindergarten who enroll as conditional entrants.

Why is that important? Among those conditional entrants are kids with temporary medical exemptions.

And how many kids aren’t vaccinated simply because they are “receiving IEP services?”

So it is not only wrong, it is unethical to try and say that only 0.9% of kids have vaccine exemptions in California this year.

Update on Vaccine Exemption Rates in California’s Clusters

Still, the big story continues to be what’s going on in the clusters of intentionally unvaccinated kids in California and other parts of the United States.

Are they getting vaccinated and protected under SB 277?

Wait, I thought Dr. Bob said that the vaccine exemption rate was just 0.9%. What happened at this Waldorf school? 30% of the kids have medical exemptions!
Wait, I thought Dr. Bob said that the vaccine exemption rate was just 0.9%. What happened at this Waldorf school? 30% of the kids have medical exemptions!

Some actually are!

The MMR rate at the Waldorf school in San Diego was just 44% back in 2014, as a whopping 56% of kids had a personal belief exemption. As sad as it sounds, even though it is still below herd immunity levels of protection, their current MMR vaccination rate of 68% is a big improvement!

Unfortunately, there are many schools with even lower immunization rates. And of course, that means even more students with “medical exemptions” at those schools.

SchoolPMEs
Marin Waldorf School31%
Yuba River Charter64%
Westside Waldorf School37%
Sebastopol Independent Charter45%
Muse Charter50%
Live Oak Charter41%
Nevada City School of Arts31%
Sunridge Charter47%
Santa Cruz Waldorf School34%
Cedar Springs Waldorf School30%
Journey33%
Waldorf School of Orange County33%
Coastal Grove Charter36%
Mariposa School of Global Ed31%
Waldorf School of the Peninsula36%
Maple Village Waldorf School30%

In addition to these permanent medical exemptions (PMEs), some schools also have high rates of temporary medical exemptions.

Medical Exemptions for Vaccines in California are Unusually High

What’s the usual rate of medical exemptions?

As there are few reasons to skip or delay a child’s vaccines, it is lower than those rates.

A lot lower.

In one recent report, Vaccination Coverage for Selected Vaccines, Exemption Rates, and Provisional Enrollment Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2016–17 School Year, the median rate of medical exemptions in the U.S. was just 0.2%, with a range of <0.1 to 1.5%.

Also unusual is that in some cases, many of those exemptions are written by just a few doctors. In fact, families often go to these doctors just to get their kids their medical exemptions!

“…the removal of nonmedical exemptions in California was initially effective in increasing vaccination rates, but the substitution between exemption types may render the repeal partially ineffective in improving immunization coverage and preventing VPDs over time.”

Richwine et al on Do Stricter Immunization Laws Improve Coverage? Evidence from the Repeal of Non-medical Exemptions for School Mandated Vaccines

How do we fix this and get more kids vaccinated and protected?

“Beyond fostering compliance, tightening the requirements around medical waivers will also aid in promoting public policies that protect public health.”

Richwine et al on Do Stricter Immunization Laws Improve Coverage? Evidence from the Repeal of Non-medical Exemptions for School Mandated Vaccines

In addition to closing the loopholes that allow some doctors to abuse medical exemptions, it will be important to help parents be more skeptical and see through the anti-vaccine propaganda that other doctors use to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

More on Vaccine Exemption Rates in California

Fact Checking the Truth About Vaccination Rates in California

In general, higher immunization rates should translate into lower rates of disease.

And it is true that in most states, including California, overall immunization rates are up.

So what’s happening?

Fact Checking the Truth About Vaccination Rates in California

Everyone knows what’s happening!

Clusters of unvaccinated kids and adults.

Pockets of susceptibles.

Abuse and overuse of vaccine exemptions.

And folks who continue to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

There are measles outbreaks in this part of northern California...
There are measles outbreaks in this part of northern California…

What’s the truth about California’s immunization rates and the reason they are still having outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases?

“Oh, but wait! What do you mean we have higher vaccination coverage NOW than we did back then? How can that be? I thought rates have been declining steadily for two decades putting us in a terrible position of falling wayyyy below herd immunity levels!?

I thought the reason we are now “in danger of disease outbreaks” is because of the increasing number of children being exempted from vaccines? Hold on, wait. You’re telling me there are LESS kids exempted now than there were in the year 2000 when we were free of outbreaks because of “high vaccination rates”? That can’t be right…can it?”

Melissa Floyd

You aren’t going to get it from anti-vaccine folks

73% is actually pretty good for a Waldorf school!
73% is actually pretty good for a Waldorf school!

But it’s not surprising that you get misinformation about herd immunity from folks who think vaccines don’t actually create herd immunity.

And it shouldn’t be surprising that you can’t hide in the herd when your herd is a cluster of unvaccinated kids at a Waldorf school.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary. Vaccinate your kids and help stop the outbreaks.

More on Fact Checking the Truth About Vaccination Rates in California