Tag: UNICEF

Is the Samoan Measles Outbreak Fabricated?

Why do some folks think that the Samoan measles outbreak is fabricated?

There are actually folks out there pushing the idea that the measles epidemic in Samoa is fake or fabricated.

It’s more than the usual suspects.

Understanding the Anti-Vax Response to Measles Deaths in Samoa

It is because wild conspiracy theories are the fuel of the modern anti-vaccine movement.

No one should be surprised either that they have invented 101 different theories about why kids are dying in Samoa.

It can’t simply be that they are unvaccinated and that measles is a life-threatening disease! That would interfere with their whole world view that it is okay to leave their own kids unvaccinated and unprotected because they think that vaccines are dangerous, aren’t necessary, and vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t that big of a deal.

Is the Samoan Measles Outbreak Fabricated?

And that gets us to the idea that the measles outbreak in Samoa is fake or unnatural.

Zach Vorhies spread the UNICEF vaccine conspiracy theory.
Zach Vorhies spread the UNICEF vaccine conspiracy theory.

Was the measles outbreak in Samoa started by shedding from vaccines sent by UNICEF in early October?

Folks who spread the UNICEF vaccine conspiracy leave out the fact that the first cases were in September...
Folks who spread the UNICEF vaccine conspiracy leave out the fact that the first cases were in September…

Wait, why did UNICEF start sending measles vaccines to Samoa in October?

Yeah, that’s right. The first cases were actually in September, triggered by visitor from New Zealand in August.

There were 22 dead children at the time, but Erin Marie RN, just for fun, was spreading the conspiracy theory that the epidemic was caused by a vaccine strain of measles.
There were 22 dead children at the time, but Erin Marie RN, just for fun, was spreading the conspiracy theory that the epidemic was caused by a vaccine strain of measles.

Anyway, the strain in Samoa is D8, not A as you would expect if it was a vaccine strain.

And the idea that the outbreak was fabricated by Merck to sell more vaccine?

Remember the CDC price list conspiracy?

That seems reminiscent of the CDC price list conspiracy that anti-vax folks were pushing last year…

UNICEF gets vaccines at a steep discount.
UNICEF gets vaccines at a steep discount.

No one is making any money on the vaccines being used in Samoa anyway.

Folks in Samoa put out a red flag to let vaccination teams know that they needed to get protected.
Folks in Samoa put out a red flag to let vaccination teams know that they needed to get protected.

But they are forcing people to get vaccinated, right?

Taylor Winterstein thinks Samoa is turning into Nazi Germany because they want to stop a measles epidemic...
Taylor Winterstein thinks Samoa is turning into Nazi Germany because they want to stop a measles epidemic…

Even those who have been made to think that the vaccines are toxic?

When folks turned away vaccination teams they weren't forced to get vaccinated...
When folks turned away vaccination teams they weren’t forced to get vaccinated…

Nope.

While there is a vaccine mandate, no one is being forced to get vaccinated.

Most were very happy to get vaccinated and protected!

What about the rogue strains of mutated measles that Bobby Kennedy warned the Prime Minister about?

They aren’t causing the measles epidemic in Samoa

Jim Meehan doesn't think that the measles epidemic is natural...
Jim Meehan doesn’t think that the measles epidemic is natural…

Again, neither are vaccine strain measles.

Yes, let's get to the bottom of this and call out each and every person that is scaring parents away from vaccinating their kids in Samoa.
Yes, let’s get to the bottom of this and call out each and every person that is scaring parents away from vaccinating their kids in Samoa.

What about the idea that kids are only dying in Samoa because it is a third world country?

Well, it’s not. It is a developing country and more people with measles are dying everywhere, as we see more and more cases.

“This would be news if outbreaks of similar intensity occurred in first world countries, such as the United States or the European Union. But they don’t. Nor do they occur in a similar scale or severity. This means that hygiene, nutrition, refrigeration, and potable water—items many in the modern world take for granted—are the real delta between measles deaths in the Third World versus mild measles cases in the first, which come and go, and rarely result in fatalities.”

Measles Hysteria – from Samoa to the Congo

While we are lucky that there have been no measles deaths in the last few years in the United States, there have been 100s in Europe.

Can you blame the 8 measles deaths in Italy on poor nutrition?

And the deaths are not because kids have been getting Tylenol or not been given vitamin A.

Remember when our state Legislatures worked to protect us from infectious diseases, instead of trying to pass laws that make it easier for kids to skip or delay their vaccines? Remember the 55,622 cases of measles and 123 deaths in the United States measles epidemics between 1989 and 1991? Did we not have good hygiene and nutrition then?
Remember when our state Legislatures worked to protect us from infectious diseases, instead of trying to pass laws that make it easier for kids to skip or delay their vaccines? Remember the 55,622 cases of measles and 123 deaths in the United States measles epidemics between 1989 and 1991? Did we not have good hygiene and nutrition then?

It is because they are not vaccinated and not immune to measles!

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

Don’t spread anti-vaccine propaganda that helps contribute to these kinds of outbreaks and epidemics.

More on Samoan Measles Epidemic Conspiracy Theories

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.
An update from Samoa on 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?

The measles epidemic in Samoa has greatly slowed down as most folks are now vaccinated and protected.
The measles epidemic in Samoa has greatly slowed down as most folks are now vaccinated and protected.

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.

And 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.

They have hopefully also learned 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

Vaccines Statistics and Numbers

To help you get better educated about vaccines, it can help to learn some vaccine statistics and some other numbers behind vaccines.

Vaccine Court payouts come from an excise tax and are not taxpayer dollars...
Vaccine Court payouts come from an excise tax and are not taxpayer dollars…

Including the numbers that anti-vaccine folks throw around.

Vaccine Statistics

For all of the talk of some folks delaying or skipping vaccines, do you know how many vaccines are given each day?

According to the CDC, from 2006 to 2017, at least 3,454,269,356 doses of vaccines were distributed in the United States. These are the vaccines that are covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, such as DTaP, MMR, Hepatitis A and B, HPV, and flu, etc.

That’s over 287 million doses each year!

The WHO reports that 85% of infants around the world receive vaccines against DTP, polio, measles, and hepatitis B.
The WHO reports that 85% of infants around the world receive vaccines against DTP, polio, measles, and hepatitis B.

How about worldwide?

That’s harder to know, but consider that the World Health Organization reports that 85% of infants worldwide, or almost 100 million infants, get at least:

  • 3 doses of DTP
  • 3 doses of hepatitis B
  • at least one doses of measles
  • 3 doses of polio

Plus, an increasing number are getting vaccines to protect them against Hib, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, HPV, meningitis A, mumps, rubella, tetanus, and yellow fever.

“UNICEF supplies vaccines reaching 45 per cent of the world’s children under five years old as part of its commitment to improving child survival.”

How many vaccine doses are we talking about?

A lot. UNICEF alone buys 2.8 billion doses of vaccines each year! Those vaccines are then distributed to children in over 100 countries.

Vaccine-Preventable Disease Statistics

As impressive as the number of vaccines that are given each year are the numbers about what happens when we give vaccines:

  • there are 2 to 3 million fewer deaths in the world each year because people are vaccinated and protected
  • in the Unites States, every $1 spent on vaccines provides $3 in direct benefits and up to $10 in benefits if you include societal costs
  • in developing countries, every $1 spent on vaccines provides $16 in direct benefits, but that goes up to $44 when you take “into account the broader economic impact of illness”
  • for children born in the United States during “1994–2013, routine childhood immunization was estimated to prevent 322 million illnesses (averaging 4.1 illnesses per child) and 21 million hospitalizations (0.27 per child) over the course of their lifetimes and avert 732,000 premature deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses,” and it also “will potentially avert $402 billion in direct costs and $1.5 trillion in societal costs because of illnesses prevented”
  • only two countries continue to have wild polio – Afghanistan and Pakistan – and together, they only had 21 cases in 2017

Still, only one vaccine-preventable disease, smallpox, has been eradicated.

And worldwide, more than 3 million people still die from vaccine-preventable diseases every year, many of them young children.

Other Vaccine Numbers

There are some other numbers about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases folks should know:

  • the number of pediatricians who got a $3 million vaccine bonus – zero
  • the number of doses of vaccines kids get today – 69 72 54 doses (including yearly flu shots) by age 18
  • the number of vaccines that contain antifreeze as an ingredient – zero
  • the number of vaccines that contain peanut oil as an ingredient – zero
  • the number of studies that link vaccines to autism – zero
  • the number of diseases that homeopathic vaccines can prevent – zero
  • the number of anti-vaccine sites that mention any benefits of vaccines – zero
  • the number of VAERS reports that are thought to be unrelated to a vaccine – 53%
  • the number of VAERS reports that are thought to be definitely caused by a vaccine – 3%
  • the number of definite VAERS reports that were serious – 1% (anaphylaxis)
  • the number of myths about vaccines that can scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids – 100s
  • the number of measles outbreaks that have been caused by a vaccine strain – zero
  • how long you have to stay in quarantine if you are unvaccinated and are exposed to someone with measles – at least 21 days
  • the number of new vaccines in the pipeline300

And yes, $4,060,857,713.42 has been paid by the Vaccine Court for 6,355 compensated claims for vaccine injuries since 1989, during which time billions of doses of vaccines were given.

“This means that for every 1 million doses of vaccine that were distributed, 1 individual was compensated.”

Vaccine Injury Compensation Data

And many of those claims were simply settled.

Vaccines work. Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are necessary.

Get vaccinated and protected.

What’s the biggest number you should be thinking about? Way too many people are still getting and dying from vaccine-preventable diseases.

What to Know About Vaccine Statistics

Although more work needs to be done to protect more people, vaccine statistics clearly show that vaccines work and that they are safe and necessary.

More on Vaccines Statistics

Updated February 2, 2019