Believe it or not, some folks are still pushing misinformation to scare people away from getting vaccinated and protected against measles.
Ironically, this guy talks about propaganda, manipulating parents, and media lies without saying anything that is truthful.
As I’m sure you are aware, the Disney measles outbreak was not caused by a vaccine strain.
The outbreak strain during the Disney outbreak was B3, which can be traced to outbreaks in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. Neither the Disneyland outbreak nor any outbreak has been caused by a vaccine strain of measles.
What about the idea that measles is now harmless???
Or that measles isn’t deadly is a developed country with a well-nourished population???
Why have so many people died with measles in Europe recently if it is so harmless?
Yes, research it for yourself and you will find the complications of recent measles infections he left out, including the pregnant woman with who had a miscarriage during the 2013 measles outbreak in Brooklyn.
You may also have heard that some of the folks getting caught up in these outbreaks weren’t actually anti-vaccine, but were people who thought they already had measles or thought they were already vaccinated and protected.
How to Avoid Getting Caught up in a Measles Outbreak
Are you and your family protected against measles?
You might be thinking, “of course we are, we get all of our vaccines!”
But you still might want to double check, keeping in mind that:
only people born before 1957 are thought to have natural immunity to measles, because measles was very common in the pre-vaccine era
the original measles vaccine that was used between 1963 and 1967 was not thought to be effective, so if that’s the only dose you had, it should be repeated
a recommendation for a second dose of MMR didn’t come until 1990, so many people born before that time have only had one dose, especially since there was never a catch-up program to make sure older people had two doses. Even now, adults don’t necessarily need two doses of MMR unless they are in a high-risk group (foreign travel, healthcare workers, living with someone who has a compromised immune system, people with HIV, and students).
children don’t routinely get their first dose of MMR until they are 12 to 15 months old (one dose is 93% effective at preventing measles), with a second dose at age 4 to 6 years (two doses are 97% effective)
a third dose of MMR isn’t typically recommended for measles protection
Still think you and your family are protected?
In addition to routine recommendations, to avoid measles in a more high risk setting (traveling out of the country or during an outbreak), you should:
get infants an early MMR, giving them their first dose any time between 6 and 11 months of age (repeating this dose at age 12 to 15 months)
get toddlers and preschoolers an early second dose of MMR, giving them their second dose at least 28 days after the routine first dose that they received when they were 12 to 15 months old, instead of waiting until they are 4 to 6 years
get older children and adults two doses of MMR if they haven’t already had both doses
Younger infants who are less than six months old can get a dose of immunoglobulin within 6 days if they are exposed to measles. Older infants, children, and adults can get a dose of MMR within 72 hours if they are not vaccinated and are exposed to someone with measles.
Does it force parents to vaccinate their kids, as anti-vaccine folks have been warning us about? Does it quarantine unvaccinated kids in their homes?
It must be pretty outrageous if folks are willing to basically incite others to riot, right?
“Every action we have taken, since the beginning of this outbreak has been designed to by the department of health of Rockland County in conjunction with the state department of health to do two things, maximize vaccinations and minimize exposures. We are taking today the next step in that endeavor… In order to prevent any more children from falling ill from this deadly disease, I am today declaring a county wide state of emergency. Effective at the stroke of midnight tonight, March 27, anyone who is under 18 years of age and is unvaccinated against the measles will be barred from public places until the declaration expire in thirty days or until they receive at least their first shot of MMR.”
does not mean that law enforcement will be asking for vaccine records
does mean that your case will be referred to the District Attorney if you are in violation (class B misdemeanor) – your child is in a public place without at least one dose of MMR
holds parents accountable if they are in violation
exempts many public places, like streets and parks
So basically, the emergency declaration supports what the health department is already doing to end the outbreak and will hopefully get the attention of those who are keeping the outbreak going.
Are they out to arrest people?
“We owe this to the residents of this great county so that we never ever have to go through this again. This is an opportunity for everyone in their community to do the right thing for their neighbors and come together. That’s what this is about now. We must do everything in our power to end this outbreak and protect the health of those who can not be vaccinated for medical reasons and those children too young to be vaccinated and also those who are risk…”
So how do they explain all of the autistic kids who are unvaccinated?
If It’s Vaccines, Then Why Are There Autistic Kids Who Are Unvaccinated?
Of course, anti-vaccine folks have a ready answer – it’s vaccines, but it’s not just vaccines.
I guess that’s how they explain the fact that there are so many autistic adults too! Well, actually no. Most anti-vaccine folks are surprised when you point out that there are so many autistic adults, as it doesn’t fit in with their idea that autism is new and caused by kids getting more vaccines than they used to.
Well, I guess mostly caused by giving so many more vaccines than we used to – there are also the autistic kids who were never vaccinated.
How do they explain those kids having autism?
Like their competing theories about how vaccines are associated with autism (it’s the MMR vaccine, no it’s thimerosal, no it’s glyphosate contaminating vaccines, etc.), they have a lot of ideas about how everything else causes autism. From fluoride and chlorine to acetaminophen and aluminum-lined containers, plus mercury, arsenic, aspartame, MSG, and the vaccines your child’s great-grandmother received – they think that just about anything and everything can cause autism. Or at least anything that they think they can sell you a treatment for, such as their supplements, special diet plans, or other “cures.”
Makes you wonder why they still focus on vaccines…
But they do, even as more studies have shown that vaccines are not associated with autism. And since vaccines don’t cause autism, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are unvaccinated children with autism. The only reason there aren’t more is that most parents vaccinate their children, so, of course, most autistic children are going to be vaccinated.
Another reason is that some parents stop vaccinating their kids once they have an autistic child. But since vaccines aren’t associated with autism, which is highly genetic and inheritable, younger unvaccinated siblings born after older siblings were diagnosed often still develop autism.
Now if vaccines didn’t cause autism in these unvaccinated kids, why would anyone still think that they caused autism in their older siblings?
“I must admit that it was through conversations with a coworker that I began to suspect something might be wrong with my youngest son. It concerned me so much that I started looking for information online. I read some of the stories and they sounded similar to what I was experiencing with my son – with the symptoms, the regression and the age at which it all started to become apparent.”
Lara’s Story: Growing Up Anti-Vaccine
Unlike some other stories you might read online, Lara’s story is about her unvaccinated autistic child.
She isn’t alone. You only have to look at personal stories and posts in parenting forums to see that there are many cases of autism among unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children:
“It is highly likely my 4-year-old son is autistic. And he is completely 100 percent vaccine-free. And I am just at a total loss.”
“I have unvaxxed kids on the spectrum, and my friend does as well.”
“A good friend’s son is autistic. He is totally non-vaxxed.”
“I seriously delayed vaccinating my son, so had very few vaxxes at the time he was diagnosed”
“We have autism in our unvaxxed children”
“I know two little boys who are both autistic, completely non-vaxxed”
“I have two unvaccinated children who are on the autism spectrum and have never vaccinated any of my children.”
“I am not sure what caused my son’s autism, but autistic he is. He is completely unvaxxed as we stopped vaxxing 10 years ago.”
“I have a 10 year old daughter with autism spectrum disorder… My daughter has never had a vaccine, a decision I made shortly after she was born, after much research.”
Unfortunately, while realizing that unvaccinated children can develop autism does help some parents move away from anti-vaccine myths and conspiracy theories, others get pushed deeper into the idea that it is just about toxins. It is not uncommon for some of these parents to blame vaccines they got while pregnant or even before they became pregnant, Rhogam shots, or mercury fillings in their teeth, etc.
Fortunately, most don’t though.
Take Juniper Russo, for example.
She “was afraid of autism, of chemicals, of pharmaceutical companies, of pills, of needles” when she had her baby. She just knew that vaccines caused autism when she first visited her pediatrician after her baby was born and knew all of the anti-vaccine talking points. She also later began to realize that her completely unvaccinated daughter had significant developmental delays. Instead of continuing to believe that vaccines cause autism, Ms. Russo understood that she “could no longer deny three things: she was developmentally different, she needed to be vaccinated, and vaccines had nothing to do with her differences.”
For one thing, you have to confirm that everyone with measles symptoms actually has measles. If you miss anyone, because measles is so contagious, then they could expose other people and the outbreak will keep getting bigger.
How do they confirm who has measles and who doesn’t?
While you could just make a clinical diagnosis, simply relying on the person’s history and pattern of symptoms, typically everyone just gets tested.
About Those Vaccine Strains in Measles Outbreaks…
What kind of testing?
“Laboratory confirmation is essential for all sporadic measles cases and all outbreaks. Detection of measles-specific IgM antibody and measles RNA by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) are the most common methods for confirming measles infection. Healthcare providers should obtain both a serum sample and a throat swab (or nasopharyngeal swab) from patients suspected to have measles at first contact with them. Urine samples may also contain virus, and when feasible to do so, collecting both respiratory and urine samples can increase the likelihood of detecting measles virus.”
It depends, but often a throat swab or a throat swab and urine are collected for PCR testing, especially if it has been 7 or fewer days since the patient came down with their rash.
If it has been longer than 7 days, then testing using urine and blood specimens can be performed.
“Molecular analysis can also be conducted to determine the genotype of the measles virus. Genotyping is used to map the transmission pathways of measles viruses. The genetic data can help to link or unlink cases and can suggest a source for imported cases. Genotyping is the only way to distinguish between wild-type measles virus infection and a rash caused by a recent measles vaccination.”
Measles For Healthcare Professionals
Because many people get vaccinated during an outbreak and a rash and fever is a side effect of the MMR vaccine, testing becomes very important in those who were recently vaccinated.
After getting vaccinated, testing helps confirm that someone has vaccine strain measles and not wild type, a vaccine reaction, and don’t actually have measles.
“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
“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
So the reports that you might have seen that 31 people in the California measles outbreak had a vaccine strain of measles aren’t true. There were at least 31 people who were recently vaccinated during the outbreak and had a rash and/or fever, and they tested positive for the vaccine strain, proving that they weren’t actually part of the outbreak. None of them actually had measles though.
Has anyone ever gotten the measles after being vaccinated?
“Vaccine‐associated measles is a possible, but extremely rare event.”
Sood et al on Vaccine‐associated measles in an immunocompetent child
Either way, it is important to understand something he leaves out. There are few deaths from measles these days because most folks are vaccinated!
Whatever his motivation, let’s take a look at what Dr. Bob is saying about measles…
“Measles hysteria is everywhere. And it’s clear the hysteria is a result of media fear around this disease, a disease every child used to get (and handle virtually without complication) not that long ago.”
Dr. Bob Sears
Not that long ago?
I’ve been a pediatrician for 22 years and I have never seen a child with measles. Neither did I have measles, as I was fortunate enough to grow up in the post-vaccine era for measles – a vaccine that has been available for since the 1960s.
Anti-vaccine folks try to hide the risks of measles in mortality rates, but the reality of it is that about 500 people died each year up until the early 1960s when the first measles vaccine was developed.
“There is another side to this measles conversation: how we’ve unintentionally shifted the burden of disease to babies and adults, both groups who are more likely to experience complications, by vaccinating all schoolchildren and losing natural immunity.”
After all, the MMR vaccine provides life-long immunity to most people. That’s not the problem.
If we went back to the pre-vaccine era, when everyone got measles naturally, as Dr. Bob seems to be advocating for, not only would those kids have to earn their immunity, but many babies (those who hadn’t had measles yet) and adults (those with immune system problems) would still be at great risk.
And while measles was cyclical in the pre-vaccine era, it shouldn’t be when folks are vaccinated and protected. What happened to the cycles between 1997 and 2007?
“Unlike natural immunity, the measles vaccine does NOT offer lifelong protection. Estimates of its protection average around 15 years, and describe a phenomenon in the vaccine world known as “waning immunity.”
“The other trend we’ve seen over the past 10 years is an increase in adult measles cases. “
Dr. Bob’s sidekick neglects to mention that in addition to unvaccinated kis with measles, the trend is an increase in measles cases in unvaccinated adults! After all, most folks who get measles in these outbreaks are unvaccinated.
“To recap: by losing natural immunity for measles for children 5-19 years old, we’ve exposed babies, pregnant women, and adults to measles—all vulnerable groups who are more likely to experience serious complications from the disease.”
Perhaps the only true statement that they make – “we’ve exposed babies, pregnant women, and adults to measles—all vulnerable groups who are more likely to experience serious complications from the disease.”
And no, vitamin A is not a proven therapy or measles in developed countries. It mainly helps prevent complications in kids who have a vitamin A deficiency.
during the late winter and early spring (temperate climates, like the United States)
after the rainy season (tropical climates)
In the post-vaccine era, measles season seemed to shift a little later, to the spring and early summer. In 1994, for example, when we had 963 cases of measles in the United States, 79% of those cases occurred between April and July.
Similarly, in 2011, we had only seen 15% of the year’s total measles cases by April 1. By August 1, that was up to about 70%.
We do see measles cases year round though, we just seem to see more of them in the spring and early summer months. Since most measles outbreaks in the United States are imported from other parts of the world, you might expect that we would see more cases when folks are traveling more and when there are big outbreaks in other parts of the world.
And that is likely why we have already seen more cases this month than in the entire year of 2000 (86 cases), 2002 (44 cases), 2003 (55 cases), 2004 (37 cases), 2005 (66 cases), 2006 (66 cases), 2007 (55 cases), 2009 (71 cases), 2010 (61 cases), and 2016 (86 cases).