Censored Facts on Measles and the Measles Vaccine
Written by Barbara Loe Fisher
This year, the fear mongering about measles has reached epidemic proportions in America.
A day doesn’t go by without media outlets publishing angry articles and editorials spewing hatred toward a tiny minority of parents with unvaccinated children, who are being blamed for measles outbreaks.
The remedy is always a call to track down, persecute and punish any parent whose child is not vaccinated.
Some state and federal lawmakers are reacting to the relentless fear mongering by proposing to severely restrict the medical vaccine exemption and eliminate all religious and conscientious belief exemptions in state vaccine laws.
These exemptions, which help prevent vaccine injuries and deaths, also protect parental rights, civil liberties and the ethical principle of informed consent to medical risk taking.
Government, WHO, Medical Trade, Pharma, Media Say MMR Vaccine Is Safe & Effective
The U.S. government, the World Health Organization, medical trade associations, the pharmaceutical industry and multi-national communications corporations all agree that the measles virus is extremely dangerous, the MMR vaccine is very safe and effective, and all children must get two doses of MMR vaccine to meet the goal of eradicating measles from the world by 2020.
While most of the public conversation in the past two decades has been focused on children, who have suffered convulsions, encephalitis and encephalopathy after MMR vaccine reactions and become chronically ill and disabled, there hasn’t been much discussion about measles vaccine effectiveness or what measles was like before and after the vaccine was licensed in the mid-20th century.
This is a special report on measles vaccine failures based on evidence published in the scientific and medical literature that is not being discussed in public conversations about measles vaccine policies and mandatory vaccination laws.
Measles in U.S. in 1950s: Mild and 90 Percent Not Reported
I had measles in the 1950s, along with my sister and half the kids in my class. I remember staying home from school, wearing dark glasses in the house and eating chicken noodle soup and orange popsicles, while waiting impatiently for the spots to disappear so I could go back to school and see my friends again.
The same thing happened with chickenpox but that was way more uncomfortable because, even with calamine lotion, I kept itching when I shouldn’t have.
There were 555,000 reported cases of measles in 1955 with 345 associated deaths in a US population of 165 million people that year.
Actually, though, an estimated three to five million Americans every year got wild type measles, usually before age 15.
If 3.5 million Americans got measles in 1955 and 345 died, the measles death rate was about 1 in 10,000.
Most cases like mine were mild with a fever, sore throat and rash that went away in a week.
Back then, few mothers called a doctor for a common childhood infection every child got, and 90 percent of cases were not reported to the government.
In fact, if you look at vital statistics data from the early 20th century, although measles can cause complications like pneumonia, ear infections, and brain inflammation, measles infections have never been a leading cause of death or disability in this country.
By the mid-20th century there were antibiotics to address many complications and measles was not considered a big problem by most parents and clinicians in the U.S. or Europe, especially in healthy children.
1962: “Moderate Severity and Low Fatality” But Let’s Eradicate It
In 1962, famous microbe hunters Drs. Alexander Langmuir and DA Henderson, who designed smallpox eradication campaigns, contemporaneously described measles as a “self-limiting infection of short duration, moderate severity and low fatality” that has “maintained a remarkably stable biological balance over the centuries. ”
Dr. Langmuir calmly observed that, “the decline in measles mortality demonstrates the degree to which we have adapted to this balance and have learned to live with this parasite.”
But then, boldly, proudly and with absolute confidence, he proclaimed:
To those who ask me, “Why do you wish to eradicate measles, I reply with the same answer that Hillary used when asked why he wished to climb Mt. Everest. He said, “Because it is there.” To this may be added, “…. and it can be done.”
Drs. Langmuir and Henderson were giving a heads up to the medical community that a measles vaccine was coming out soon and that public health officials were going to use it to not just control measles, but to eradicate the virus from the earth.
The “because we can” eradication action plan would apply the same search and destroy strategies used against the smallpox virus to wipe out the much less deadly but far more contagious measles virus.
Like with smallpox, that action plan hinged on using the bodies of infants and children injected with a vaccine to try to drive the virus into extinction.
Public health officials, pharmaceutical companies and politicians were well aware that for a century they had convinced parents to offer their children for conscription in a war on smallpox and polio, and it was logical to assume they could wage the same kind of war on the measles virus, too.
In 1962, Congress passed and President John F. Kennedy signed the Vaccination Assistance Act (PL 87-868), known today as the Section 317 grant program.
The Act, which was part of a broader federal government initiative to provide health care to underserved communities, gave money to the states to wage intensive polio and DPT vaccination campaigns targeting young children.
The Act was amended in 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson to include money for measles vaccine campaigns.
In March 1963, the U.S. Surgeon General announced two measles vaccines had been approved for licensure, an inactivated measles vaccine developed by Pfizer and a live virus vaccine developed by Merck.
In that statement, the Surgeon General once again admitted there was a low death rate for measles in the US. compared to underdeveloped countries. He reassured the nation that “rarely would there appear to be a need in the United States for mass community immunization programs.”
He urged doctors to simply offer the new measles vaccines at well baby visits.
Before Vaccine, Mothers Transferred Measles Antibodies to Fetus
At the time, doctors knew that women, who had recovered from wild type measles as children, passively transferred measles antibodies to a developing fetus when they were pregnant so newborns were protected from measles during the first year or more of life.
Back then, most children did not get measles until they were between three and 10 years old and that gave them durable, long lasting immunity to the disease.
The immune systems of infants do not function the same way as for older children and adults.
From the very beginning, vaccine makers could not get the measles vaccine to override infants’ natural maternal measles antibodies that block the acquisition of vaccine strain antibodies.
Today, because most women have been vaccinated as children, they don’t have the same kind of robust maternal measles antibodies to pass on to their newborns like mothers in past generations.
Today, most newborns are susceptible to measles infections from birth, when complications can be more severe.
And adults, including pregnant women, today can also be more susceptible to measles infections if their vaccine acquired antibodies have waned and they are no longer protected.
This taking away of measles maternal immunity from newborns was the first major alteration in the “remarkably stable biological balance” between the measles virus and humans that Dr. Langmuir and his colleagues described a year before measles vaccines were licensed and given to babies as young as nine months old.
The recommendation for the first dose of measles vaccine was raised to 12 months old in 1965.
In 1976, the age had to be raised again to 15 months because the younger the infant, the less likely the measles vaccine will be effective.
First Inactivated Measles Vaccine Lethal, Ineffective
The first inactivated measles virus vaccine turned out to be pretty lethal, as well as marginally effective.
Three doses of that vaccine set children up for a more severe type of atypical measles, which increased the risk of chronic illness and death if, years later, they got infected with wild-type measles.
The inactivated measles vaccine was taken off the market in 1967.
First Attenuated Live Measles Vaccine Very Reactive
Merck’s first attenuated live measles virus vaccine was given in one dose that was supposed to confer lifelong immunity.
It was described by the Surgeon General in 1963 as producing a “mild or inapparent, non-communicable measles infection.”
It was pretty reactive too: 30 to 60 percent of children experienced high fevers or a modified measles rash along with cough and cold symptoms, similar to wild type measles.
Attenuated live vaccines contain lab altered, weakened viruses that infect and replicate in the body to stimulate artificial immunity without causing the wild type viral disease.
However, there is always a possibility that vaccine viruses may revert to a more pathogenic form, which is why just the right amount of attenuation is so important.
To make the live measles vaccine less reactive, it had to be further attenuated in 1965 and, then again, in 1968.
Estimated 55 Percent Vaccine “Herd Immunity” to Eradicate Measles by 1967
In March 1967 Dr. Langmuir and other CDC officials published a paper in the medical literature, once again describing measles virus as one that “has maintained a remarkably stable ecological relationship with man.”
Measles “complications are infrequent,” they said, and “with adequate medical care, fatality is rare” and “immunity following recovery is solid and lifelong in duration.”
They said a 55 percent herd immunity threshold or more may be needed to prevent measles epidemics that cycle in communities every two to three years but that, “there is no reason to question that…the immune threshold is considerably less than 100 percent.”
These disease control experts ended their article by stating confidently that if a good number of children – but clearly not all children – were vaccinated during the winter and spring that year, then “the eradication of measles from the United States in 1967” would be accomplished.
1973: Vaccinated Children Can Still Get Measles
In 1973, Dr. Stanley Plotkin warned that vaccinated children could still get measles and that “a history of previous vaccination cannot be assumed to exclude measles as the cause of an exanthum rash, whether typical or atypical.”
He said that, “about 5 percent of vacinees do not respond and presumably remain susceptible,” which he described as “primary vaccine failures.”
Dr. Plotkin also said there was evidence that some previously vaccinated children exposed to wild type measles could “develop modified illness and a secondary type of antibody response,” which he described as “secondary vaccine failures.”
In other words, vaccine makers and public health officials knew in 1973 that getting a dose of the live virus measles vaccine does not guarantee that a vaccinated person won’t get infected with wild type measles and they also were not sure about whether some vaccinated children could still transmit wild type measles to others.
1 Death in 1,000 REPORTED Measles Cases?
Between 1971 and 1975, an average of 35 measles-related deaths were recorded each year in the U.S., which CDC officials said equaled a measles mortality rate of 1 death in 1,000 reported cases, 56although in Great Britain the estimate was 1 death in 5,000 reported measles cases.
Relying on reported cases to make the measles mortality estimate for the U.S. was not entirely accurate because the majority of measles cases were mild and not reported to the government.
Today, CDC officials still use the 1 death in 1,000 figure to reinforce the need to eradicate the virus using every means possible, including by excluding all unvaccinated children from schools.
Measles Vaccine Herd Immunity Raised To Above 90 Percent Level
By 1971, about 72 percent of children had gotten a dose of measles vaccine and government health officials published a paper blaming the continuing failure to eradicate measles on the failure to get every child vaccinated at age one and the failure of more than half the states to require measles vaccine for children entering school.
They raised the measles vaccine acquired ‘herd immunity’ threshold from more than 55 percent to “somewhere above the 90 percent level,” but added the interesting caveat – “ if it exists at all.”
They said many unanswered questions remained, including the role that vaccinated persons may play “in the transmission of wild-type measles virus to susceptibles.”
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