Tag: measles outbreaks

Does Measles Protection from the MMR Vaccine Wane Over Time?

Why do some parents think that measles protection from the MMR vaccine might wane over time?

Yup – misinformation from the usual suspects.

Does Measles Protection from the MMR Vaccine Wane Over Time?

Wait, how can this be misinformation if they are citing a source and it is a study published by the CDC?

“The results, published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, show that even after being previously vaccinated twice for measles, about 35% of vaccinated 7-year-olds and 60% of vaccinated 15-year-olds are susceptible to subclinical infection with measles virus.”

Physicians for Informed Consent: CDC Data Shows Immunity from the MMR Vaccine Wanes Over Time

While that doesn’t sound good, that’s not what the study really says!

“A rise in the proportion of persons with low antibody levels suggests an increase in potential susceptibility, but low titers are unlikely to represent the same risk of illness or viral transmission as absent antibodies.”

LeBaron et al on Persistence of Measles Antibodies After 2 Doses of Measles Vaccine in a Postelimination Environment

They are clearly misinterpreting what the study does say and mean.

“In summary, we found that, in a population of children who had received 2 doses of measles vaccine at ages and intervals consistent with US policy and who were unlikely to have been exposed to wild-type measles, potential susceptibility rates were low for as long as 10 years after the second dose.”

LeBaron et al on Persistence of Measles Antibodies After 2 Doses of Measles Vaccine in a Postelimination Environment

The funny thing is that the study is about what happens to vaccine induced immunity in the absence of exogenous boosting.

In other words, what happens when vaccines get diseases under good control so that we are no longer exposed to wild disease which can give our antibody levels a little boost.

So they are highlighting a study that proves that vaccines work and fortunately, it concludes that “measles antibody persists,” even without exogenous boosting.

The other study they cite discusses a measles outbreak in Japan.

In the 2018 outbreak, 99 people got measles.

“A recent outbreak of measles in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan ended with 33 measles cases whose symptoms were masked because of insufficient protection against the disease (modified measles).”

Mizumoto et al on Transmission potential of modified measles during an outbreak, Japan, March‒May 2018

Only 10 were fully vaccinated with two doses of measles vaccine. An additional 20 had one dose.

“Symptoms in modified measles cases are masked, so they do not present with the full (typical) symptoms of measles (fever, maculo-papular rash and catarrhal symptoms such as cough, coryza or conjunctivitis) and their transmission risk is reported to be lower.”

Mizumoto et al on Transmission potential of modified measles during an outbreak, Japan, March‒May 2018

While many vaccines do lead to milder disease, even if the vaccine doesn’t provide full protection, we don’t typically see that with measles, except for rare case reports.

So instead of modified measles, it is possible that many of these folks were simply very recently vaccinated, likely in response to the outbreak, and were having a vaccine reaction.

Remember, measles containing vaccines do commonly cause a fever and rash as a side effect. That’s why we sometimes see vaccine strain measles in outbreak reports. These aren’t typically people with measles or modified measles.

“This case report adds further evidence for lower infectivity of modified measles with no secondary cases and highlights the potential requirement for updated contact tracing recommendations in this scenario. Other case reports have shown that individuals with modified measles and history of prior vaccination have more robust levels of plaque reduction neutralisation (PRN) titre, reflecting an immunity booster response. These case studies also identified no secondary cases. In measles outbreak reports in healthcare workers with two documented MMR vaccines, no onward transmission of measles has been reported.”

Uren et al on Modified measles with an atypical presentation

Still, although it would be better if vaccines prevented disease and you would get sick at all, when they don’t, isn’t a modified case better than getting full blown measles?

And the bottom line is that the so-called Physicians for Informed Consent is once again misleading people if they are trying to make them think that the MMR vaccine will wane and that “Nearly 50% of Vaccinated U.S. Schoolchildren Can Become Infected With and Spread Measles.”

The only school where you will find that nearly 50% of the kids are susceptible to measles is likely a Waldorf school. But that’s only because they won’t be vaccinated and protected.

More on Waning Immunity

The Timeline of the Measles Epidemic in Samoa

The timeline of the measles epidemic in Samoa seems fairly easy to understand.

Vaccination rates went down, the people in Samoa got caught up in the rise in measles cases and outbreaks happening all over the world, and they soon had a measles epidemic on their hands, with lots of kids dying.

In an outbreak situation, everyone who is not immune would need to get two doses of a measles containing vaccine and that's why you need 215,000 doses of measles vaccine... And despite what Sherri Tenpenny might think, everyone on Samoa is still not vaccinated yet.
In an outbreak situation, everyone who is not immune would need to get two doses of a measles containing vaccine and that’s why you need 215,000 doses of measles vaccine… And despite what Sherri Tenpenny might think, everyone on Samoa is still not vaccinated yet.

Unfortunately, anti-vaccine folks continue to exploit the tragedy, trying to make it sound like vaccines actually caused the epidemic.

“The Samoa Measles Appeal is being launched by the Government of Samoa to receive financial assistance from partners to support national efforts to contain the outbreak, to effectively treat people who contracted measles, and to achieve herd immunity for long term protection of the population.”

National Measles Response and Recovery Appeal

They are even making up conspiracy theories about the money the Government of Samoa is requesting to help control the epidemic and prevent future outbreaks.

The Timeline of the Measles Epidemic in Samoa

Maybe what is happening in Samoa isn’t so easy to understand…

Let’s give it a try!

To truly understand what is happening in Samoa, you have to go back a little further than when the epidemic started.

In fact, we have to go all of the way back to July 2018, when two young children died very shortly after getting their routine MMR vaccines. Although they died because of a mixup between the vaccine diluent and a powerful anesthetic, the tragic deaths led to the suspension of all vaccinations in the country.

Taylor Winterstein was planning an anti-vax workshop in Samoa in June.
Taylor Winterstein was planning an anti-vax workshop in Samoa in June.

And while the suspension was eventually reversed, they continued to hold MMR vaccinations for another nine months, until April 15, 2019.

Bobby Kennedy actually wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of Samoa on November 19th making every effort to blame the epidemic on a defective MMR vaccine, mutant measles strains, or vaccine strain measles.
Bobby Kennedy actually wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of Samoa on November 19th making every effort to blame the epidemic on a defective MMR vaccine, mutant measles strains, or vaccine strain measles.

Combine that with the efforts of anti-vax folks and it is easy to see how immunization rates in Samoa eventually tumbled to a low of just 30%!

What happened next?

On October 9, we got the first report of a measles case in Samoa and that it was related to a someone who visited from New Zealand for a conference at the end of August.

But by the time of that first report, at least 86 people had already been tested for suspected measles!

“Of the 28 specimens of suspected measles cases sent to Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory Melbourne, Australia on the 30th Sept 2019, twelve (12) results have been received over the week end. Of these twelve there were four confirmed cases; one adult and three children. All have been treated and discharged with no complications.

On the 2nd of October 2019, we sent another 8 specimens of suspected measles cases. Current results received this afternoon of these eight specimens sent revealed three new confirmed cases. Of these three positive cases, two were children under five years and 1 was an adult of 22 years old. All have been treated and discharged.

A total of seven confirmed cases have been reported to date. In anticipation, we now confirm a Measles Epidemic.”

Ministry of Health Press Release 1 – Measles Epidemic (October 16)

With that many cases already, it should be obvious that the measles outbreak in Samoa started in late September. That explains why UNICEF had begun to send measles vaccines and vitamin A to Samoa in early October.

Measles cases in Samoa began in September, which is why UNICEF began sending vaccines in October.
Wait. If the outbreak is caused by the vaccine strain (A genotype), why are folks testing positive for the D8 strain?

And that should put to rest the myth that this is some kind of unnatural, vaccine induced outbreak that got started because of the UNICEF vaccines.

“The deceased child of one year two months was admitted on the 8th October 2019 with a history of febrile convulsions, cough and skin rash typical of measles associated with severe dehydration. Verification of immunization status for this child revealed that he has not been vaccinated against measles.”

Ministry of Health Press Release 1 – Measles Epidemic

Tragically, we very soon saw the first measles death (October 15) in Samoa, an unvaccinated toddler. With continued cases, they soon declared a measles epidemic on October 16.

With continued cases and deaths, the Government of Samoa closed all preschools and daycare centers on October 31.

On November 8, they lowered the age to get the first dose MMR in Samoa to 6 months.

It wasn’t long before the Government of Samoa declared a full fledged state of emergency (November 15), closing schools, restricting children from gathering in public, and making vaccination mandatory.

“The outbreaks in Samoa and Tonga are caused by the D8 strain (genotype) of measles virus. Measles vaccine coverage varies in Pacific island countries and areas, ranging from 31% in Samoa to 99% in the Cook Islands, Nauru and Niue.”

Measles Outbreak in the Pacific – Situation Report No 1, 22 November, 2019

It was at this time that more help came from New Zealand, 12 nurses to help administer vaccines. Australia also soon sent a team of 34 doctors and nurses to help at Samoa’s main hospital in the capital Apia.

“Samoa’s government is warning anyone trying to discourage people from getting measles vaccinations to stop it.”

Measles Update: Samoa warns against anti-vaxxers; issues new emergency orders

And now, although there have been some roadblocks put up by anti-vaxxers both in and out of Samoa, with lots of help, they are hopefully getting their epidemic under control.

“As of December 6th, 2019, approximately 89% of all eligible people in Samoa have been vaccinated against measles.”

National Emergency Operation Centre: Update on the measles outbreak (Press Release 21) December 7, 2019

In fact, many people were vaccinated when the Government of Samoa shut down on December 5th and 6th.

“On 03/12, the Government announced that a nationwide mass vaccination will take place on Thursday and Friday (05 + 06/12) and all public services (excluding power and water, police, and health services) as well as the private sector (with few exceptions) will be shut down from 7 am – 5 pm to enforce the mass vaccination programme. Citizens were asked to stay at their residences and await the visit of mobile vaccination teams. There are 128 teams carrying out the mass vaccination campaign during this period.”

National Measles Response and Recovery Appeal, 6 December 2019

During the door to door mass vaccination campaign, families were told to stay home and hang red flags outside their homes if they needed to be vaccinated.

Photo courtesy of the Government of Samoa.
Photo courtesy of the Government of Samoa.

Amazingly, with all of the cases and deaths, some folks resisted and didn’t want to be vaccinated and protected.

Still wondering why some parents are scared and don't want their kids vaccinated?
Still wondering why some parents are scared and don’t want their kids vaccinated?

They turned the vaccination teams away!

So much for the idea of forced vaccination, right?

There have been 70 deaths in the measles epidemic in Samoa.
The latest update from Samoa – December 9th.

Most have gotten vaccinated and protected though.

They understand that while traditional healers might still be popular in Samoa, they can not be used for life-threatening diseases such as measles.

In addition to overloading kids with vitamin C, a traditional healer working with Jim Meehan was arrested for making many claims that scared people away from getting vaccinated and protected.
In addition to overloading kids with vitamin C, a traditional healer working with Jim Meehan was arrested on December 6 for making many claims that scared people away from getting vaccinated and protected.

So what’s next?

On Nov 24, the case count jumped from 1,797 to 2,194, although they only reported 144 new cases. Were they catching up from the previous days?
On Nov 24, the case count jumped from 1,797 to 2,194, although they only reported 144 new cases. Were they catching up from the previous days?

While it isn’t over yet, hopefully we are in the ending stages of their epidemic, as many people have now been vaccinated and protected with at least one dose of a measles containing vaccine.

Hopefully everyone has learned a big lesson and this epidemic will serve as a warning to everyone to vaccinate and protect their kids.

Samoan children should have been vaccinated and protected.
Samoan children should have been vaccinated and protected.

And to not listen to anti-vax folks, especially those who would try and exploit this kind of epidemic to push their propaganda.

More on the Measles Epidemic in Samoa

Were 38% of the Disneyland Measles Cases a Vaccine Strain?

Why do some people think that 38% of the Disneyland measles cases were caused by a vaccine strain of measles?

There were no vaccine strain measles cases in the Disneyland outbreak.
There were no vaccine strain measles cases in the Disneyland outbreak.

Maybe because anti-vaccine folks have been pushing this propaganda for years now…

Were 38% of the Disneyland Measles Cases a Vaccine Strain?

Jim Meehan wasn’t the first to make the claim.

Kenneth Stoller made the claim as part of his factual background and under “penalties of perjury” when he was being investigated for writing fraudulent medical exemptions in California.

There were no vaccine strain measles cases in the Disneyland outbreak.

And it has been repeated over and over again.

There were no vaccine strain measles cases in the Disneyland outbreak.

And not just about California.

There were no vaccine strain measles cases in the Disneyland outbreak.

Larry Palevsky seems to think that the big outbreaks in New York could have just been folks with vaccine-strain measles…

“All measles cases this year have been caused by measles wild-type D8 or B3.”

CDC on Measles Cases in 2019

Of course, none of this is true.

There were no vaccine strain measles cases in the Disneyland outbreak.

There were no vaccine strain measles cases in the Disneyland outbreak!

What the California Department of Public Health reported were recently vaccinated persons who developed a febrile rash, which is a common side effect of the MMR vaccine. They were tested because they were in the middle of a measles outbreak and they wanted to make sure that these folks didn’t have measles. And they didn’t.

A few studies even describe the methods they used.

“Here, we describe a real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) method that detects the vaccine genotype (MeVA RT-quantitative PCR [RT-qPCR]) and that can provide rapid discrimination between wild-type-virus infections and vaccine reactions.”

Roy et al on Rapid Identification of Measles Virus Vaccine Genotype by Real-Time PCR

Again, the “vaccine reaction” is not that they developed measles! They developed a rash and/or fever, a common side effect of the MMR vaccine.

So how do we know that most cases in other outbreaks aren’t recently vaccinated persons with a febrile rash illness?

“During outbreaks, measles vaccine is administered to help control the outbreak, and in these situations, vaccine reactions may be mistakenly classified as measles cases.”

CDC on Genetic Analysis of Measles Viruses

Well for one thing, most of the cases are in folks who aren’t vaccinated!

And measles symptoms are much more severe than the few days of fever and rash that you might get after being vaccinated.

But if necessary, testing can be done to see if it is a vaccine strain and to see if they don’t actually have measles.

And can everyone now stop saying that that 38% of the Disneyland measles cases were caused by a vaccine strain of measles?

There were no vaccine strain measles cases in the Disneyland outbreak.

More on Measles Strains in Outbreaks

The Measles Epidemic in Samoa

The measles epidemic in Samoa isn’t the worst we have seen lately.

There are now 53 deaths in the Samoa measles epidemic.

Although everyone is now talking about Samoa, let’s remember that there has been a rise in measles cases all over the world and that there have been:

And most of those deaths have been in children.

The Measles Epidemic in Samoa

Measles is on the rise.

Not surprisingly, deaths from measles are also on the rise.

UNICEF delivered vaccines and sufficient supplies of vitamin A to Samoa back in October.
UNICEF delivered vaccines and sufficient supplies of vitamin A to Samoa back in October.

What’s different about Samoa is that they continue to be targeted by anti-vax folks, even as it is easy to see that anti-vaccine messaging helped contribute to this measles epidemic.

Anti-vaccine fears helped fuel the Samoa measles epidemic.

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.

Bobby Kennedy visited Samoa in June...
Bobby Kennedy visited Samoa in June…

So we now have a measles epidemic and low vaccination rates in a poor, developing country, with limited health care services.

Anti-vaxxers often ask if anyone died when there is an outbreak...
Anti-vaxxers often ask if anyone died when there is an outbreak…

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.

Taylor Winterstein's anti-vaccine talking points sound all too familiar.
Taylor Winterstein‘s anti-vaccine talking points sound all too familiar.

A vaccination campaign that anti-vax folks are saying is somehow turning Samoa into Nazi Germany…

Scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids in the middle of a deadly epidemic is not only dangerous, it's immoral.
Scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids in the middle of a deadly epidemic is not only dangerous, it’s immoral.

As anti-vax folks double down, even as kids die in these epidemics, know that you can help stop them by no longer spreading their propaganda and instead choosing to support vaccine advocacy groups.

Send an international wire transfer from your bank to the BSP GOS Direct Transfer Fund Account to help their Measles Emergency Operations.
Send an international wire transfer from your bank to the BSP GOS Direct Transfer Fund Account to help their Measles Emergency Operations.

And consider donating to Samoa’s Measles Emergency Options and the organizations that are helping control this epidemic, including UNICEF and the New Zealand Red Cross.

Mostly remember that in addition to working to control these epidemics, we can prevent them if more people get vaccinated and protected. After all, measles is a vaccine-preventable disease.

More on the Measles Epidemic in Samoa