Vaccines work, vaccines are safe, vaccines are necessary

By The Madison County Record | Feb 11, 2019

To the Editor:

Measles is an extremely infective, airborne disease, with a mortality rate up to 30 percent of those infected. In addition to general discomfort and temperatures as high as 104 degrees, complications and secondary infections lead to disability and death.

Nearly eliminated in the U.S. and other industrial nations through vaccination, it is endemic in central Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Measles was one of the most common causes of death among native populations in the Americas, Hawaii and Fiji, pursuant to European expansion. Worldwide vaccinations have reduced deaths attributed to measles from 2.6 million in 1980 to about 73,000 in 2017. By some estimates, the effectiveness is about 80 percent in preventing the disease entirely and reducing the seriousness in others. By comparison, the infection rate among unvaccinated family members and close associates is about 90 percent.

Many people think measles is a minor disease. This belief results from a lack of personal history with the disease. It has been over 30 years since major measles epidemics swept through children.  While vaccines are not 100 percent effective, if you look at the rate of measles instead of the raw numbers, the only reasonable conclusion is the vaccinated population is more protected. The CDC estimates approximately 3 out of 10 adults or children who get measles will develop one or more complications including pneumonia, ear infections, or diarrhea. The myth that measles is “nothing” is simply a myth.

Examine here the real measles statistics.

-About 1 out of 20 children with measles contracts pneumonia. This is the most common cause of death from measles in young children. Pneumonia often requires hospitalization, sometimes in a pediatric intensive care unit.

-About 1 out of 1,000 children with measles develop encephalitis, a swelling of the brain that can lead to convulsions and neurodevelopmental disorders.

-About 1-2 out of 1,000 children with measles die.

The CDC further reports that most cases of measles in the U.S. are imported by immigrants and international travelers. Booster shots are recommended for those traveling to endemic areas, but rarely exercised.

As such, a broader topic for a future article about vaccines would need to include numerous drug-resistant infections growing in the U.S., including tuberculosis, hepatitis, and various STDs which is exacerbated by the growing homeless population, particularly in California and Seattle, and concentrations of undocumented aliens.

As confirmed by Dr. Orient in her Illinois Review article of Feb. 6:

“Thousands of migrants are crammed together in Tijuana, many outdoors, and about a third of them are already sick. They are infected with measles, Chagas disease, hepatitis, and many other dangerous microbes. The mysterious polio-like illness that struck hundreds of American children.  First noted in 2014, the illness coincided in time and space with the dispersal of thousands of Central American children into U.S. schools, which happens to be endemic in Central America.”

Outbreaks of measles might prove endemic among the scientifically ignorant, following the bid of celebrities, whose careers are based on imitating reality.

Breakouts of measles have been reported in isolated areas of Oregon. As reported in a recent article:

“The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the nation's most vocal and organized anti-vaccination activists. That movement has helped drive down child immunizations in Washington, as well as in neighboring Oregon and Idaho, to some of the lowest rates in the country, with as many as 10.5 percent of kindergartners statewide in Idaho unvaccinated for measles. That is almost double the median rate nationally.”

In Texas, Bexar County health officials want to make sure parents know how to protect their kids now that measles cases are popping up in Texas.  A local doctor said there is an abnormal number of cases this year, and he believes it's so important for children to get vaccinated.  Further reported was a warning by officials of an abnormal number of cases of measles nationally in 2019.

Vaccinations are rejected by a surprisingly large number of people for religious, political and pseudo-scientific reasons. They have been blamed for the increase in autism (which may be due to a broadening of diagnoses). These beliefs have been espoused by entertainment figures, which lend spurious credibility to the claims. Based on clinical data, serious complications to the vaccine occur about once in a million cases. The chance of the disease spreading increases exponentially in populations where the vaccination rate falls below about 85 percent.

As to how anti-vaccine propaganda works, one or more of these three basic themes is repeated over and over again in most anti-vaccine arguments, posts, or stories:

-Make you think vaccines are dangerous by overstating the side effects and risks of getting vaccinated. And never mentioning any of the many benefits of vaccines.

-Make you think it’s no big deal to get measles or polio, by underestimating the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases and overstating the benefits of natural immunity over the protection you can get from vaccines. And never, ever mention that the reason you aren’t likely to get polio is because most people are vaccinated (hiding in the herd strategy).

-Make you think that vaccines don’t even work. They even push the false idea that there are still big outbreaks of measles in China, that the smallpox vaccine didn’t eradicate smallpox, that herd immunity isn’t real, that DDT caused polio, and that vaccine-preventable diseases have never been controlled or eradicated – we just changed the names to something else.

For brevity the first two vaccine myths are noted:

-My intentionally unvaccinated kids don’t put your kids at risk. – Of course they do, because some kids are too young to be vaccinated or fully vaccinated, some kids can’t be vaccinated, including those with immune system problems, and vaccines don’t work 100 percent of the time.

-Vaccines do cause autism. It’s the MMR vaccine. – Of all the competing theories of how vaccines are associated with autism (even though they aren’t), Wakefield‘s theory that it is the combined MMR vaccine was the first.

In the 1998 Wakefield study, Dr. Wakefield, along with 12 co-authors, published a case series study in The Lancet claiming that they found evidence, in many of the 12 cases they studied, of measles virus in the digestive systems of children who had exhibited autism symptoms after MMR vaccination. Though in the paper they stated that they could not demonstrate a causal relationship between MMR vaccination and autism.  

Reaction to the Wakefield publication was immediate. Press outlets covered the news widely and frightened parents began to delay or completely refuse vaccination for their children, both in Britain and the United States.

Over the next 12 years, the possibility of a link between MMR and autism was studied exhaustively. No reputable, relevant study confirmed Wakefield’s findings. In 2004, then-editor Dr. Richard Horton of the Lancet wrote that Wakefield should had revealed to the journal that he had been paid by attorneys seeking to file lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers, wherein The Lancet formally retracted the paper itself.  Three months after the retraction, in May 2010, Britain’s General Medical Council banned Wakefield from practicing medicine in Britain, stating that he had shown “callous disregard” for children in the course of his research. The council also cited previously uncovered information about the extent to which Wakefield’s research was funded by lawyers hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers on behalf of parents of children with autism.

On Jan. 11, 2019 a so-called bombshell report came out by investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson who in her latest “Full Measure” episode, The Vaccine Debate, which featured the  story of Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a pediatric neurologist who was the government’s own expert witness in secret vaccine court proceedings. As reported by Attkisson, Zimmerman's testimony was used to promote the government and big Pharma’s lies that vaccinations don’t cause autism, but he privately told government lawyers that vaccines can, and did cause autism in some children. Might Ms. Attkisson's report merely dovetail with her own opinion that vaccinations against measles can cause autism?

Vaccines work. Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are necessary.

The question should be raised, how many people must be immunized to prevent the spread of disease. The broad topic is “Herd Immunity,” and has been studied extensively by scientists. There’s not a simple answer, because different diseases behave differently. According to the CDC, measles vaccine is nearly 99 percent effective in preventing the disease. Since it is so virulent and infective, if nobody were vaccinated, 90 percent of those exposed would contract the disease. If fewer than a threshold percentage were immunized, the disease would spread unabated. This threshold, according to the CDC, is 95 percent for measles, and only slightly lower for polio at 85 percent.

Don’t think that it’s just a personal decision, even if you that are willing to accept the consequences. For by not immunizing your children, you put them in danger, along with countless others nearby who are not immunized. Once contracted, there is no cure for measles, and it is contagious before any symptoms appear, and until the last rash disappears.

The effectiveness of immunization, and generally good nutrition have numbed us to the dangers lurking in a global society. We shun, for various reasons, things people a hundred years ago would have died to get (irony intended). Our de facto “open border policy” may bear forbidden fruit.

Nancy Thorner, Lake Bluff, Ill.

Ed Ingold, Mundelein, Ill.

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