Sure, the recent mistake involving the nurses who incorrectly mixed up the MMR vaccine with an anesthetic instead of the proper diluent didn’t help, but anti-vax folks exploited that tragedy to scare parents even more.
So we now have a measles epidemic and low vaccination rates in a poor, developing country, with limited health care services.
And a lot of measles deaths as they struggle to get the epidemic under control by closing schools and banning public gatherings, and starting a compulsory, mass vaccination campaign.
A vaccination campaign that anti-vax folks are saying is somehow turning Samoa into Nazi Germany…
Have you seen the news about the new law that called for mandatory measles vaccination in Germany?
It’s true, although it certainly won’t cause “death and injury rates” to sky rocket.
Why Did Germany Make the MMR Vaccine Mandatory?
So why did it happen?
“Often, there is a lack of information or targeted disinformation that prevents people from getting themselves or their children vaccinated and exposure to avoidable health hazards.”
Opinion of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedical Drugs, On the Quality and Safety of Vaccines
Germany has been one of the countries most affected by measles outbreaks in Europe over the past few years, with over 5,000 cases since 2015.
And at least three measles deaths, including an unvaccinated toddler. Plus additional deaths from SSPE.
And almost all of the cases are among those who are unvaccinated.
This led to the reestablishment of endemic measles virus transmission in Germany in 2017, even as we are supposed to be working towards eliminating measles.
So what does mandatory measles vaccination in Germany mean?
“The bill stipulates that all children from the age of one on entering the school or kindergarten must have the measles vaccine recommended by the Standing Vaccination Commission. In the case of care by a childminder, proof of measles vaccination usually has to be provided.
The same applies to persons who work in community facilities or medical facilities such as educators, teachers, day care workers and medical staff (if these were born after 1970). Asylum seekers and refugees must also have the vaccine protection four weeks after admission to a shared accommodation.”
Vaccination is designed to protect children from measles
Passage of the Measles Protection Act (Masernschutzgesetz), which goes into effect on March 1, 2020, also means that parents can be fined up to €2,500 if they don’t vaccinate their children, daycare centers can be fined for admitting unvaccinated children, and certain unvaccinated workers, including healthcare workers, can be fined.
“Since measles vaccination is highly effective and very well tolerated, the German Ethics Council is of the opinion that every person is morally obliged to have him- or herself vaccinated against measles and, if applicable, to provide appropriate immunisation for his or her own children.”
Ethics Council: Increasing measles vaccination rate by a package of measures rather than by mandatory vaccination
While some oppose the law, including the German Ethics Council, it is important to note that few people see mandatory vaccination as the first step in getting folks vaccinated and protected. It is typically one of the last measures taken after everything else has failed and outbreaks are once again getting out of control, with people dying needlessly of an easily preventable disease.
Don’t want vaccine mandates to come to your community?
We shouldn’t forget that Samoa was on her International Tour.
You likely remember Samoa because of the vaccine tragedy that happened there. Two infants died after nurses mixed up the diluent for the MMR vaccine with a powerful anesthetic.
Vaccines were already halted in Samoa, but that didn’t keep Taylor Winterstein from planning to go and further scare folks away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.
And where are we now?
While Taylor Winterstein and her family were in California, meeting Andy Wakefield, there has been an epidemic of measles in Samoa, where at least one unvaccinated infant has already died.
“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
There has also been an awful lot of measles in New Zealand, which was also on her little tour. Two unborn babies have died during these outbreaks, and there are also reports of at least three hospitalizations for encephalitis.
No one expects to hear stories of kids dying after being vaccinated. Fortunately, these types of tragedies are very, very rare.
Still, even one is too many when it might have been prevented. After all, that’s why we vaccinate our kids in the first place. To protect them from life-threatening vaccine preventable diseases.
A Toddler Has Died After Being Vaccinated in Cuba
The Ministry of Health in Cuba released a statement a few days after her death:
“Between October 7 and 8 of this year, three one-year-old children were diagnosed with an adverse event associated with vaccination with PRS, which protects against Mumps, Rubella and Measles, this is applied according to official scheme to children one and six years old.
All had been vaccinated on October 7 at the “Betancourt Neninger” Polyclinic in the municipality of Habana del Este, province of Havana, and immediately after symptoms appeared, they were admitted and received medical attention by professionals of high scientific level in the Pediatric Hospitals ” Borrás Marfán ”and Centro Habana.
Through the active research carried out on all children vaccinated in that Health Area, two more children were detected with symptoms, which motivated their admission.
Painfully on October 9 at night, the one-year-old girl Paloma Domínguez Caballero dies, admitted to the “Borrás Marfán” Hospital as a result of complications. The remaining four children remain admitted: one with intensive attention, which is stable and the others evolve favorably.
The system of active surveillance of the events associated with vaccination carried out in the country has not identified any other children with symptoms.
The PRS vaccine has been used for years in Cuba, imported from India, is endorsed by the World Health Organization and certified by the Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices (CECMED).
A Commission of the Ministry of Public Health investigates the causes that caused this unfortunate event.”
Official Note from the Ministry of Public Health on adverse event associated with vaccination with PRS (computer translation)
So what happened?
Tragically, either because of errors or contamination, vaccines can rarely cause people to get sick, either if:
a reconstituted vaccine was used much after six hours – live vaccines can quickly become contaminated if they are kept and used for too long a time
vaccine diluents were mixed up – some vaccines need to be mixed before use and vaccination tragedies can occur when a dangerous medication is used instead of a vaccine’s standard diluent
vaccines were improperly handled – breaking the cold chain – or allowed to expire
In Samoa, the recent tragedy in which two toddlers died, we know that the vaccine diluent was mixed up with a powerful anesthetic.
It doesn’t sound like a diluent mixup happened in Cuba though.
“The mother told the news portal CiberCuba that the daughter’s arm began to swell the same day she was vaccinated. Then the vomits arrived. Less than 24 hours later I was already in intensive care, from where I did not come out alive again.”
Vacuna en mal estado suministrada en Cuba podría haber dejado 25 niños en estado de gravedad
With reports that the vaccines were possibly expired and the child getting sick later in the day, with swelling in her arm, it is more likely that there was some contamination, maybe in a vaccine vial itself.
The report says that it was the PRS vaccine – Parotiditis, Rubéola, and Sarampion – or MMR, which is usually available in 5 or 10 multi-dose vials when one dose vials aren’t available.
It was imported from India, which makes many of the vaccines that are used throughout the world, but any contamination likely would have occurred well after it was manufactured and shipped to Cuba.
In all of these cases, there is typically nothing inherently wrong with the vaccine itself.
“Cuba, a relatively poor and small country (population 11.2 million), has managed to bring about remarkable achievements in health in the past 30 years despite difficult fiscal restraints and limited resources.”
MacDonald et al on Infectious Disease Management: Lessons from Cuba
Interestingly, Cuba actually makes most of their other immunizations.
So why would they be using expired vaccines?
Was it a mistake?
Did someone use a leftover vial that had become contaminated with bacteria? Were the vaccines not refrigerated properly? Is it an isolated issue or part of a bigger breakdown in their healthcare system?
With four other sick kids, the use of a contaminated leftover vial that was part of an original 10 dose vial becomes one possible scenario.
We might get some answers if the vaccine vials had not been thrown away after they were used, and are still available for testing.
In Chapias, Mexico, after two infants died in 2015 after getting multiple vaccines, a vial was found to be contaminated with the Staphylococcus hominis bacteria.
A few years later, in 2017, 15 children died in South Sudan when unrefrigerated vaccine was mixed with a syringe that was reused over and over for four days and given to kids by untrained workers.
Again, these are very rare and isolated cases. Remember that billions of doses of vaccines are given each year without problems, saving millions of lives.
Hopefully we will soon learn what really happened to these children in Cuba, especially as that will hopefully help to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Most importantly, don’t let these very rare tragedies scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.
“The Cuban government has confirmed that five children suffered severe reactions and one of them — a 1-year-old girl — died after receiving a vaccine. The serum came from the same company in India that produced vaccines linked to the deaths of three other children following inoculations administered in Cuba in 2002.”
Child dies in Cuba after receiving vaccine made in India. It’s not the first time
We should remember what happened following the tragedy in Samoa. All vaccinations were unnecessarily suspended in the country for a time and MMR vaccinations were suspended for nine months!
The death of the girl in Cuba is a terrible tragedy, but folks shouldn’t make it any worse. There is almost certainly nothing wrong with the vaccines from India or any other vaccines in Cuba or anywhere else.