You have likely heard about the explosion in vaccines and vaccine dosages for kids, right?
Although it is easy to see that today’s counts are inflated to scare folks, it is a little harder to figure out about the good old days, when folks still got measles, mumps, Hib, hepatitis B and meningococcemia.
Did they get 2 vaccines or 5 vaccines or what?
How Many Vaccines Did Kids Get in the 1960s?
Well, maybe it isn’t that hard to figure out…
We could look in some old issues of Pediatrics and see how we used to vaccinate and protect kids back then.
And what would we find?
Using the same anti-vaccine math that gets us to 72 doses today, these kids in 1960 got 31 doses!
Looks like they’re going to have to fix the ad on their truck!
And all of the propaganda they put out trying to scare folks into thinking kids get so many more vaccines than they used too.
Sandra Roush and Trudy Murphy provided us with pre-vaccine baselines for 13 vaccine-preventable diseases in their article, Historical Comparisons of Morbidity and Mortality for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States.
“A greater than 92% decline in cases and a 99% or greater decline in deaths due to diseases prevented by vaccines recommended before 1980 were shown for diphtheria, mumps, pertussis, and tetanus. Endemic transmission of poliovirus and measles and rubella viruses has been eliminated in the United States; smallpox has been eradicated worldwide. Declines were 80% or greater for cases and deaths of most vaccine-preventable diseases targeted since 1980 including hepatitis A, acute hepatitis B, Hib, and varicella. Declines in cases and deaths of invasive S pneumoniae were 34% and 25%, respectively.”
Roush et al on Historical Comparisons of Morbidity and Mortality for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States.
Their study, which came out in 2007, used morbidity (2006) and mortality (2004) data that was recent at the time. The data has held up very well since then, looking at 2018 statistics in the National Notifiable Infectious Diseases Weekly Tables (see below), even with talk of waning immunity for some vaccines.
“…for those trained in pediatrics in the 1970s, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) was a horror.”
Walter Orenstein, MD
The pre-vaccine era for Hib was just before 1988, when the first Hib vaccine came out. We had good hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition in the 1980s and yet, a lot of kids died from Hib meningitis and epiglottitis. At least they did until he got a vaccine to prevent it.
And if it was better hygiene and sanitation, etc., why did it affect every disease at a different time? And why hasn’t better hygiene and sanitation stopped RSV, HIV, norovirus, Zika, and all of the other non-vaccine-preventable diseases?
Bob Sears thinks he has exposed some big news, that not everyone who gets measles dies.
Fortunately, that’s very true and something folks have always known.
With a death rate of about 1 in 1000 cases, you wouldn’t expect to have had any deaths after just 50 or 60 cases. But you never know. It’s not like every 1000th case dies. It could be the second case, the 562nd, or the 3043rd.
The hospitalization rates work the same way. They are statistical averages of what typically happens when people get measles.
Remember, the last measles death in the United States was during a 2015 outbreak in Washington. A immunocompromised women got caught up in an outbreak of mostly unvaccinated people, got measles, and died.
“Well, what does this mean? Much like the outbreak in 2014 in a large Amish community (around 400 cases), and the recent NY outbreak in an orthodox Jewish community (around 100 cases), these types of outbreaks are centralized and self-limiting—which means they don’t spread like wildfire. These cases are also almost exclusively in communities who are CHOOSING not to be vaccinated. In other words, they are not random people “victimized” by measles. #dontfeelsorryforthem”
Do anti-vaccine folks really think that these outbreaks are self-limiting? That they just stop on their own?
Do they not understand that the only thing that keeps them from “spreading like wildfire” is the intensive work of the local and state health departments, efforts to get folks vaccinated, and quarantines?
The Disneyland measles outbreak, for example, was hardly centralized or self-limited. It spread to Arizona, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Mexico, and Canada.
“Measles outbreaks can be very costly to communities, a new report suggests. For example, the 2013 measles outbreak in New York City cost the city’s health department nearly $395,000 and more than 10,000 personnel hours, according to a report in JAMA Pediatrics. And there were other non-monetary costs, including the loss of a pregnancy, researchers reported.”
Measles outbreaks come with serious consequences
That hardly sounds like something that is harmless or self-limited.
“Now, the ACIP is preparing to add a 3rd dose for all college-age students to try to stop adults from getting and spreading measles—THAT’S how common adults cases are. Yet in Washington, there were only three??”
Not only is there no call for a third dose of MMR to help stop the spread of measles, the CDC actually says a third dose isn’t necessary.
“In the event that a HCP who has 2 documented doses of MMR vaccine is tested serologically and determined to have negative or equivocal measles titer results, it is not recommended that the person receive an additional dose of MMR vaccine. Such persons should be considered to have presumptive evidence of measles immunity.”
Immunization of Health-Care Personnel: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)
Any talk about a third dose of MMR has to do with outbreaks of mumps…
“Is this all a coincidence my friends? Is the panic generated because of motive rather than data? In other words, could the media actually be encouraged to shift public beliefs on an issue to help pass legislation with a vested interest? #HerdImmunityDoesntApplyToVaccines”
“Before a vaccine became available in 1963, measles was a rite of passage among American children. A red rash would spread over their bodies. They would develop a high fever. Severe cases could cause blindness or brain damage, or even death.”
CDC says measles almost eliminated in U.S.
It should be clear that when measles was everywhere and everyone had measles, it could affect every aspect of your life.
When everyone got measles, everyone had problems with measles.
That’s why most of us are very glad to vaccinate and protect our kids. We don’t want them to get measles or any other vaccine-preventable diseases.
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).
They are talking about an article from 2001, The Role of Public Health Improvements in Health Advances: The 20th Century United States, by David Cutler, which found that “clean water was responsible for nearly half of the total mortality reduction in major cities, three-quarters of the infant mortality reduction, and nearly two-thirds of the child mortality reduction.”
Did the Measles Vaccine Have Only a Meager Effect on Deaths?
What are they missing?
“In the early 20th Century, mortality in the United States declined dramatically. Mortality rates fell by 40% from 1900 to 1940, an average decline of about 1% per year”
Cutler on The Role of Public Health Improvements in Health Advances: The 20th Century United States
Most of the decline the article talks about came at the beginning of the 20th Century, before these vaccines were developed.
What about the vaccines for whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus, which were developed in the earlier part of the 20th Century? They weren’t routinely used until much later. Remember, the individual diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines didn’t even become combined into a single DTP vaccine until 1948.
But, all of these diseases that are now vaccine preventable were still very deadly in the 1940s and 1950s, even with clean water and sanitation.
At least they were until the measles vaccine was discovered and more and more people started getting vaccinated and protected.
You can even ask the author of the article in question…
“Dear Lord. The fact that vaccines aren’t the only reason why mortality declines in no way means that vaccines are not an important reason why mortality declines.”
David M Cutler, Harvard College Professor, Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics
The idea that the measles vaccine had only a relatively meager effect on deaths due to measles infections is silly. It’s also dangerous if you believe it and leave your kids unvaccinated and at risk to get measles, which is clearly a deadly disease.
“When evaluating data from VAERS, it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established. Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.”
“In a review of reports of death following vaccination submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) from the early 1990s, the Institute of Medicine concluded that most were coincidental, not causally associated.”
Moro et al on Deaths Reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, United States, 1997–2013
That’s not even all that’s wrong with their little chart though.
They clearly say that they are talking about infants, but their chart says that it includes data for vaccines from birth to 18 years.
That should be evident when you realize that infants get neither hepatitis A nor MenB vaccines and there weren’t even any VAERS reports of deaths for infants for the hepatitis A vaccine in 2014. In fact, there has never been a report of a MenB vaccine death in VAERS for an infant.
So basically, these folks used inflated reports of deaths from VAERS that are likely coincidental and not associated with getting a vaccine and compared them to deaths that were reduced by the fact most folks are vaccinated and protected.