Public Health Fairytales: Vaccines Stop The Spread Of Disease?

Once upon a time, I believed that vaccines were mankind’s greatest savior in the battle against disease. I believed that courageous scientific minds created and distributed vaccines with only the good of humanity as the only motivation.

Then I grew up and evaluated vaccination based on its own merits rather than the romanticized stories I heard in grade school.

The bottom line is that there is a mountain of evidence from medical sources proving that vaccines do not actually stop the spread of diseases. So let’s dispense with the leprechauns and unicorns and get real about what happens when large numbers of people are vaccinated…

Vaccine Failure


  •  A 2011 outbreak of measles in New York was traced to a woman who was fully vaccinated. This is probably not isolated since other studies have found fully vaccinated individuals still get measles, and the spread of disease amongst vaccinated individuals remains a blind spot for the medical and public health professions, as the study notes.
  • The International Journal of Epidemiology records a case of measles vaccine failure in Hungary, where the majority of measles cases struck those who had been vaccinated.
  • A case study from India documents a measles outbreak in a slum. Almost one-third of the children who contracted measles were vaccinated for the disease.
  • If you or your child have been vaccinated for measles, you could still have the disease and you or doctor may not even know it. Modified measles is a documented phenomenon in which individuals who have been vaccinated for measles still contract the virus but because of the vaccine don’t display the typical the symptoms of the disease. The characteristic spots associated with measles are very frequently absent in modified measles. Most doctors aren’t very familiar with this so they won’t consider it a possibility in vaccinated individuals or test for it. A similar phenomenon called atypical measles was noted when the killed strain measles vaccine was in use.
  • Though he believes everyone should still be vaccinated, renowned vaccinologist Dr. Gregory Poland has stated that the MMR shot is not effective at preventing measles. He says that the MMR vaccine is far less effective than anticipated and that immunity from it quickly wanes.





On The Decline Before Vaccines


The 1953 report from the office of Vital Statistics shows that measles deaths were approximately 13 per 100,000 in 1918 for an estimated population of 103, 208,000. But by by 1950, measles deaths had fallen far below 1 in 100,000. This report states that while infectious diseases like diphtheria, measles and whooping cough were responsible for 242.6 per 100,000 deaths in children under 15 in the early twentieth century, by 1950 these diseases combined accounted for only 5 deaths per 100,000 for children under 15. Take note that the measles vaccine was not introduced until 1963. (MMR became available in 1971  and the DTP vaccine started mass usage in 1948.)


Considering the abysmal failure rate of the pertussis vaccine, we should probably begin to call into question assertions that it was responsible for dramatic decreases in pertussis death rates. Take a look at Tavia Gordon’s Vital Statistics report chart from 1953. The pertussis death rate actually reached an all time high of approximately 17 per 100,000 in 1918- four years after the introduction of the pertussis vaccine in 1914. The pertussis death rate continued to decline throughout the first half of the twentieth century at roughly the same rate as other diseases like scarlet fever (which we don’t vaccinate for) and measles (vaccine introduced in the 1960’s).


Page LII of the Vital Statistics of the United States 1955 Volume I notes that: “…deaths from acute poliomyelitis fell below those for any year since 1947. While the drop was coincidental with the introduction of the poliomyelitis vaccine, very little of the decline can be attributed to its decline in 1955. This disease causes deaths among young adults as well as among children and the rates for almost every age group declined in 1955.”


In 2005 MCV4 type vaccines were introduced and are commonly used today. But what about countries where vaccination for meningococcal meningitis isn’t typically part of the vaccination schedule? Poland has kept records on meningococcal meningitis occurrence and deaths for several decades, but does not include the meningococcal vaccine as part of its schedule of vaccines and does not offer it free like other vaccines on its schedule. From 1970 to 2007, meningococcal deaths have cycled between upswings and downturns in Poland while incidence of meningococcal meningitis has remained quite consistent.

Statistics show that between 1983 and 1992 there was an increase in meningococcal deaths over the previous decade, after the first vaccine was introduced. Then in 1992, the death rate and incidence of meningococcal meningitis began to decline. In 2002, the death rate from meningitis reached a thirty year low (before the new vaccines were introduced) while the incidence of meningococcal meningitis went back up to where it was during the 1970’s stayed there. Polish statistics show that while young children are more likely to contract the disease, the elderly are by far the most likely to die from it. The case fatality percentage for Polish children ages 0-19 is consistently 0-2% across all age groups, while 15% of cases in individuals aged 50-64 die from the disease and 21% of cases in individuals aged 65+ die. Just as with the flu, the elderly are most at risk because they often have underlying health issues that make them more susceptible to complications.

How much do vaccines impact the decrease of pneumococcal meningitis? Let’s take a look at some statistics from Europe. In Iceland, pneumococcal vaccination has been routinely administered to children since 2011. But in 1999-2000, Iceland (population 281,000 in the year 2000) saw only a single case of pneumococcal meningitis. Other countries like the Republic of Ireland (population 4 million in the year 2000) had similarly low numbers like 8 cases and Slovenia (population 1.9 million in the year 2000) had only 4. This was all before the introduction of routine vaccination for pneumococcal meningitis and represents the total number of cases, not even deaths. Other countries had bigger numbers like Italy with 76 cases and a large population of 57 million in the year 2000, while the Netherlands had the most cases (164) despite having a smaller population than Italy (15 million in the year 2000).

Since there were no vaccination programs for pneumococcal meningitis in place for these countries, other factors must be influencing the rates of pneumococcal disease.  The pneumococcal vaccine hasn’t really eliminated pneumococcal disease, it’s just changed the epidemiology of it. Instead of babies getting the disease as used to happen quite frequently, now toddlers and school age children are contracting it.

Haemophilus Influenzae B

New types of vaccines utilizing conjugate proteins were developed for Hib in the early 1990’s, though in fact rates of the disease had already been declining. One study of Hib in Los Angeles declared that Hib had been eliminated from the immunized population (which they defined as children enrolled in the Southern California Kaiser Health Plan) and even stated that decline of Hib in the year before the new conjugate Hib vaccine was licensed (1990) was due to the vaccine even though it hadn’t been released yet. (Randall Neustaedter The Vaccine Guide pg. 190, summary of the study can be found here.)

How about statistics from Europe? In 1999-2000, the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands both had routine Hib vaccination programs. However, these countries had some of the higher incidence rates of Hib. The Netherlands had 20 cases of Hib for the population, resulting in a crude incidence rate of 0.13 and the Republic of Ireland had 2 cases of Hib for the entire population resulting in a crude incidence rate of 0.06. Some countries without a routine program for Hib vaccination (like Slovenia with 14 cases for population of 1.9 million in the year 2000) did have a relatively high crude incidence rate (0.70 for Slovenia). Others like Greece and Italy had crude incidence rates of 0.04 and 0.05 respectively. The country in this chart with the lowest crude incidence of Hib was Norway at 0.02, again with no routine Hib vaccination program in place at the time. So while the Hib vaccine has been credited with declining rates of the disease, the evidence shows that it is not the cut-and-dried solution we have been led to believe.

The Risks Are Blown Out of Proportion


  • First world countries where measles outbreaks remain common actually have higher rankings for health and life expectancy than those of the United States.  The United States ranks 42nd in the world for life expectancy while the UK ranks 29th,  Switzerland ranks 8th, Israel 19th, Canada 14th, Japan 3rd, and the Netherlands 22nd. Reports of deaths and encephalitis remain isolated in these countries.
  • Rate of immunization of infants is arbitrary in relation to life expectancy rankings. Monaco ranks 1st for life expectancy (out of 223 nations) and has reported a 99% measles immunization rate of infants ages 12-23 months in 2012, but so did Albania, which ranks 60th for life expectancy and Brunei which ranks 74th,  and Turkmenistan at 155. Rwanda reports a 97% rate of infant vaccination is 197th in the world for life expectancy. Austria reports that only 76% of its babies are vaccinated for measles and it is ranked 32nd in the world for life expectancy, while Benin has a 72% infant measles vaccination rate and ranks 191st for life expectancy. By the way, United States reported an infant vaccination of 92% for measles in 2012- the same as Switzerland.
  • Who is at risk for severe measles complications? Most superficial information will tell you that unvaccinated or under vaccinated individuals are the most at risk, but if you dig deeper into medical literature you will find that nutrition can either make or break the body’s ability to fight measles. This study from India found that children who had vitamin A supplementation were less likely to contract measles.
  • One study in the September/October 1996 volume of Pediatric Nursing found that 72% of hospitalized measles cases in America were in vitamin A deficient individuals.
  • The Oxford Journals echoes this finding stating that most severe cases of measles in the United States occur in vitamin A deficient individuals. This article (and the World Health Organization) states that severe complications and deaths from measles still occur most commonly in developing countries and that individuals who are immunocompromised by HIV/AIDS, are malnourished or vitamin A deficient are most at risk.
  • What about those panicked press releases from the media about outbreaks of measles from unvaccinated individuals? One study found that only 11% of reported measles cases in infants were actually validated by testing.
  • What constitutes a public health crisis? The CDC’s official statement on measles reads: “In the United States, measles caused 450 reported deaths and 4,000 cases of encephalitis annually before measles vaccine became available in the mid-1960s.” So by the CDC’s standard, 450 deaths and 4,000 cases of an illness is cause for grave concern. Then consider this: according to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 15,780 children will be diagnosed with cancer this year and 1,960 children will die from cancer. Most of these childhood cancer cases will be leukemia, brain and nervous system cancers, and lymphoma. So before you go ranting about the legions of deaths that will occur if people stop vaccinating for measles, consider that your child is already more than four times more likely to die of cancer than an individual of any age was to die of measles before the vaccine was introduced. (And that your child is four times more likely to develop cancer than an individual of any age was to develop measles encephalitis before the vaccine.) Much has been said about the great burden and cost that fighting measles would entail if the disease was to become endemic, but caner is already far more common and far more costly to treat.


  • I think when we picture the 1918-1919 flu pandemic, we picture doctors and the public doing everything right- washing their hands, using the most effective drugs, etc.- while young healthy people still died. The reality is that doctors really didn’t know what was causing the flu pandemic and were giving advice on how to fight it based on faulty logic. Researcher Laurie Garrett notes that counsel from doctors during the 1918-1919 flu pandemic included warnings to avoid old, dusty books, German fish, Chinese people, open windows, closed windows, washed pajamas, and unwashed pajamas. Some doctors even attributed the flu pandemic to “cosmic influences”. (The Coming Plague, Laurie Garret, pg. 158.)
  • Did you know that there is compelling evidence that many of the deaths in the 1918–1919 H1N1 flu epidemic may have actually been due to lethal aspirin doses administered by well–meaning physicians? At the time, aspirin was considered an exciting new drug on the market and the US Surgeon General, US Navy and Journal of the American Medical Association all recommended high dosages of aspirin for treating the flu. The symptoms exhibited by many flu victims match with those of aspirin poisoning, though at the time doctors didn’t think aspirin poisoning existed
  •  A growing number of statisticians and doctors have been publicly criticizing flaws in the methods the CDC uses to calculate flu deaths.
  • One problem with getting a flu shot is that as much as public health officials try to include the strains that they predict will be the most prevalent, there is still a very real possibility that you could contract another strain. Doctors and public health officials claim that the flu shot may help reduce the severity of the flu if you do contract a strain that the vaccine doesn’t cover, but they rarely offer any proof of this. Also, it takes two weeks for the vaccine to actually take effect, so until then you are fair game for any and all flu strains, both giving and receiving. (Look for the heading “Will the flu vaccine work right away?”)
  • While the elderly are the ones who die from the flu most frequently, the vaccine is actually less effective for them. It’s also less effective for babies under 2, a demographic which is also said to be at special risk for flu complications.  In fact, according to the CDC, the flu vaccine is most effective in healthy individuals over the age of 2 and under the age of 65 with no underlying health problems- the ones who are least likely to suffer death or complications from the flu to begin with.
  • The CDC admits that randomized studies are the best method for determining efficacy, but says that most of its studies are observational because ” Randomized studies are expensive and are not conducted after a recommendation for vaccination has been issued, as withholding vaccine from people recommended for vaccination would place them at risk for infection, illness and possibly serious complications. For that reason, most U.S. studies conducted to determine the benefits of flu vaccination in the elderly are observational studies.” (The preceding information and quote are taken from the CDC’s Vaccine Effectivness page.) In other words, the CDC has already decided that the flu vaccine is effective and safe without rigorous testing and studies, and because they have decided that the flu vaccine is safe, extensive testing and studies are not necessary.

Hepatitis B

  • Statistics show that 45% of all new HBV infections in the United States are sexually transmitted, with injection drug use causing another 21% of cases and the remainder (33%) being cases of mother-to-child transmission occurring at birth or in the first few years of life. (pg. 20)
  • Overall, the CDC statistics show that rate of HBV infection is very low in the United States and Canada, averaging 0.1 to 0.5% for current or chronic infection, however the rate of infection is much higher among native populations and Asian emigres. About 5% of Americans have been infected with the hepatitis B, but 90-95% of the time these cases are cleared by the immune system on its own. (See page 19 under the heading “Canada and the United States”.)
  •  Child-to-child transmission of hepatitis B (mostly through contact with open sores) has been well documented in developing countries. In the United States and other developed countries child-to-child transmission incidents have been extraordinarily rare, even in daycare and school. Urine and feces are not vehicles for transmission unless blood is present and oral transmission of hepatitis B is almost non-existent. (pg. 48 under heading “Risk of Hepatitis B Infection in Daycare Centers”.)
  •  In Minnesota alone, there have been 240 reports of adverse events following hep B vaccination, including six deaths. A summary of these cases is available here.
  • In 1999 Dr. Phillip Incao M.D. gave testimony before the Ohio House of Representatives protesting the requirement of hepatitis B vaccination for children starting school. He noted that between July 1990 and 1999, 17, 497 cases of hospitalizations, injuries and deaths had been reported in the United States after hepatitis B vaccination. Of these severe reactions, 146 of the deaths occurred in individuals who had received only a hepatitis B vaccine without any other vaccines. Of those 147 deaths, 73 were children under 14 years of age. How do these numbers measure up to the number of children who actually contract hepatitis B? In 1996, 279 cases of hepatitis B were reported in children under the age of 14 while 872 hep B vaccine related serious adverse events were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. And this is likely only the tip of the iceberg. Fewer than 10% of doctors report adverse vaccine reactions. Read the full text of Dr. Incao’s testimony here. Statistically speaking, a child is more likely to suffer a serious reaction to the hepatitis B vaccine than to actually contract the disease.


  • Tetanus is caused by infection with the bacteria clostridium tetani. This bacteria is found in soil, dust and animal feces all around the world. If the bacteria gets inside a deep wound, it can start producing a toxin called tetanospasmin, which causes the characteristic spasms associated with tetanus. Typically, a puncture (like stepping on a rusty nail) is necessary to produce the sort of deep wound necessary for tetanus to take hold. We should all be asking why two month old infants are vaccinated against tetanus when they are probably the most unlikely to experience a deep puncture wound as they are unable to even crawl. The second condition that must be present is that the wound must not be sufficiently cleaned. Keep this in mind, because a wound that is sufficiently cleaned to prevent infection will keep away many illnesses. There are many types of infections that can develop from wounds, including surgical wounds received in hospitals. For most other types wound infections, precautions such as hygiene are considered the first line of defense, yet with tetanus we embrace the idea of getting a shot and neglect to discuss the solution of simply cleaning a wound and/or using sterile implements.



  • The National Meningitis Association reports that approximately 800- 1,200 people contract meningococcal meningitis every year and that of those around 10%-15% die and of those who survive about 1 in 5  have permanent disabilities. So taking some averages (10% death rate and 20% disability rate of 1,000 meningococcal cases), we have approximately 300 deaths or serious injuries from meningococcal disease every year. How does this stack up to the safety of vaccination? In 2013, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program compensated 375 cases of vaccine injury or death. So you are about as likely to receive a pay out from the government for dying or being seriously injured by a vaccine as you are to die or be disabled by meningitis.

Japanese Encephalitis

  • The CDC sites two cases of Japanese encephalitis that occurred in children, one of which occurred in an American child who visited the Philippines and was fatal. The other case though, was a Burmese boy who was traveling from a refugee camp in Thailand to the United States and made a complete recovery. These represented only the fifth and sixth cases of Japanese encephalitis documented in America between 1992 and 2011. (The others were adults visiting family.) The number of children who have visited Asia prior to 2013 and returned home without any further incident must be taken into account when examining the CDC’s recommendations for vaccinating children. The CDC also notes in the editorial to this report that individuals with family abroad rarely seek counsel on vaccination before traveling, and are often unvaccinated for Japanese encephalitis. The large number of people who have travelled to Asia to visit family between 1992 and 2011 must also be taken into account when considering that only six cases of Japanese encephalitis have been recorded by the CDC. While it is not impossible for someone who is unvaccinated to contract the disease, it is extremely rare.


When Vaccines Cause Disease…


One of the goals of measles vaccination is to reduce cases of measles encephalitis by reducing the number of measles cases. Unfortunately, the vaccine doesn’t always work this way. Cases of measles encephalitis have been found in vaccinated individuals and vaccine failure is usually cited as an explanation. That’s right, even if you have been vaccinated for measles, you can still contract the disease and develop encephalitis. Though the CDC claims that no cases of measles encephalitis have ever been found to be caused by the vaccine, this is untrue. There are a few well documented cases. One case of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis comes from India where a girl began to regress mentally and physically several years after being vaccinated for measles as a baby. She had no history of measles and tests found that it was MMR that had caused the encephalitis. Extensive testing found that a Canadian toddler developed measles inclusion body encephalitis several months after MMR vaccination.

Fascinatingly enough, the doctors who researched this case, acknowledge in their report that cases of SSPE have increased in vaccinated children since the introduction of universal vaccination, though the overall incidence of SSPE has decreased. This means that while encephalitis cases are increasing amongst vaccinated individuals, they would have to be decreasing for the unvaccinated. Okuda found that in Japan between the years of 1976 through 1986, 5.4% of SSPE cases did occur in individuals who had been vaccinated for measles. This isn’t a high number, but it does happen. Even the product insert for MMR II says : “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pointed out that ‘a certain number of cases of encephalitis may be expected to occur in a large childhood population in a defined period of time even when no vaccines are administered’. However, the data suggest the possibility that some of these cases may have been caused by measles vaccines.”

A two year old girl from British Columbia, Canada who developed measles five weeks after receiving the MMR vaccine. Reported through Eurosurveillance and all details confirmed by Canadian health authorities.

Reported in the March-April 2005 volume of Pediatric Dermatology was a case of a one year old boy who developed wild-type measles 10 days after vaccination. The strain was found to be clinically indistinguishable from the natural disease.

Vaccine-associated measles in a 23 year old man who had been vaccinated 18 days prior.

Irish Health Authorities say that it takes up to 14 days for the MMR vaccine to take effect.


In the 1970’s and 1980’s lawsuits were brought before the U.S. government by individuals who claimed they had been infected with polio by the live oral polio vaccine campaign of 1962. In 1993, the federal district court of Maryland ruled that individuals had a legal right to sue the government for damages from the oral polio vaccine even though the 1962 oral polio vaccine (OPV) campaign had originally been considered above the law because it was deemed an extraordinary humanitarian effort. The claimants were awarded seven figure sums by the U.S. government. (The Coming Plague Laurie Garret 182. According to the CDC, between 1980 and 1999 162 cases of paralytic polio were confirmed in the United States,  154 of which were VAPP.

Provocative polio is when polio is brought on (provoked) by a medical procedure. Tonsil/adenoid surgery was first implicated for polio provocation. In 1910 doctors observed that children who had throat surgery during a polio outbreak had an increased risk of contracting polio within the first 1-2 weeks after the operation. Physicians in the US Army and many leading health officials warned that it was better to hold off on tonsil surgery until after the polio season was over, though others said the risk was negligible.One very well-documented medium for provocative polio turned out to be intramuscular injection, especially for vaccination with the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) shot. By 1952, leading health and medical organizations in the United States advised that vaccination with the DTP shot should wait until after the high season for polio was over.

In 1980, public health researchers noticed that several children had become paralyzed in the limb where they had recently received their DTP shot. (J.K. Martin described the the same occurrence in his 1949 study titled Local Paralysis in Children After Injections.) In 1998, Drs. Matthias Gromeier and  Eckard Wimmer found that injury to tissue to during certain types of injections allowed the polio virus easy access to nerve channels, thereby increasing the likelihood of paralysis. HV Wyatt study from 2003 found that three-quarters of children with paralytic polio receive injections just before the onset of paralysis.

Further problems persist with efforts to eradicate polio through mass vaccination as reported by Scott Barrett in the August 2015 volume of the Health Affairs journal. For example, in areas of India people are being vaccinated for polio, but it fails to induce immunity. Another big trouble spot is the transmission of vaccine poliovirus from the live virus oral polio vaccine (OPV). OPV also poses problems with individuals who have immunodeficiency conditions. Because their bodies are not able to fight viruses as effectively, a polio vaccine virus from OPV can be excreted and transmitted for years from people who are immunodeficient.

Surveillance to make absolutely sure that no more polioviruses have been found would have to be extensive in a polio eradication scenario. And another problem is simple reporting. Often, countries don’t want to announce they have had incidences of a disease because of national pride and the stigma of having cases of the disease. Somalia, for example, suppressed information about cases of smallpox within its borders during the last months of the smallpox eradication campaign.


Though the CDC has since downplayed the connection between the H1N1 vaccine and Guillain-Barre syndrome, by early 1977, agency insiders had already concluded that the occurrence GBS was greater among those who had received the flu vaccine than among those who had not. By the time of Carter’s inauguration, 1,100 cases of GBS had been reported, half of whom had received the swine flu shot. Among those 1,100 cases of GBS, fifty-eight had resulted in death. Researchers concluded that the instance of  Guillain-Barre Syndrome was ten times greater for the those who had received the swine flu shot, than for those who had not. (Garret 181) That’s right, the 1976 flu vaccine killed more people than the disease itself did.4,181 cases were filed seeking payment for damages caused by the 1976 flu vaccine. The cases made their way through the legal system for a decade and a half, but by 1993, the United States government had paid out over $93 million dollars to swine flu claimants. (Garret 182)

Chickenpox and Shingles

In the UK, the varicella vaccine is not given routinely because health officials are concerned that it would cause the chickenpox virus to infect more teens and adults, which can often be more severe. Health officials in the UK are also concerned about the lack of chickenpox virus leading to more frequent infections with shingles.

Haemophilus Influnezae B

The first Hib vaccine (often called PRP for its use of a polysaccharide capsule substance) was developed in 1985 and was heralded as a major step forward in meningitis prevention. Unfortunately, the vaccine was less than effective and studies found that children who had received the PRP Hib shot were actually more likely to contract Hib. (Randall Neustaedter The Vaccine Guide pg. 188).


Proponents of the theory that vaccination prevents encephalitis should also understand that vaccines are known to cause autoimmune encephalitis, a disease which can quickly cause disability or death. The Merck Manual Home Edition states that autoimmune encephalitis can be caused when “A virus or vaccine triggers a reaction that makes the immune system attack brain tissue (an autoimmune reaction).”


The anthrax vaccine developed in the last part of the twentieth century has been implicated in Gulf War Syndrome and opponents (including other scientists) have cited a lack of research and proof of efficacy. In fact, research from members of the armed forces shows that adverse reaction rates for the anthrax vaccine are as high as 85%, not the 30% the manufacturer claimed and that women have higher rates of adverse reactions than men.

More civilians have died from domestic anthrax attacks than members of the armed forces. The anthrax attacks of 2001 were actually perpetrated by an American scientist who had spent 20 years working on the anthrax vaccine. The last natural death from anthrax in the United States the case of a California weaver who had the misfortune to work with some infected wool from Pakistan. In 2008, a drum maker from the UK developed anthrax from working with infected animal skin and died. (Same article as previous reference.)In 2009, there was a case of gastrointestinal anthrax from a young woman who participated in a drumming circle. She recovered completely after two months in the hospital, but this case actually raises some interesting questions about the transmission of anthrax.

The CDC found that two of the drums used at the drumming circle tested positive for anthrax and 187 people were determined to have been exposed. Of the 187, only a single case of anthrax was reported. All participants were offered antibiotics and an anthrax vaccine. One person accepted the antibiotics and vaccine, 36 people accepted antibiotics, 26 declined both the antibiotics and vaccine, and 21 were lost to follow up. So while many were exposed and one person accepted vaccination, only one participant actually got sick, which may indicate that certain conditions have to apply to develop the illness. Since several people accepted antibiotics, but no vaccine and did not get sick, is it possible that antibiotic prophylaxis could be started in the event of anthrax exposure rather than a mandatory vaccine?


A Few Alternatives…

Mumps- Need I Say More?

A few weeks ago I was finishing up my post on SIDS and facing the prospect of writer’s block. I just wasn’t sure what to write after the SIDS post was finished. And then Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins developed the mumps after receiving an MMR booster before the Sochi Olympics. Suddenly, my writer’s block was solved!

I have actually heard people say that we vaccinate for mumps because people used to die from it. This is, of course, a display of ignorance. (The irony is that those of us who choose not to vaccinate are usually referred to as being uneducated or gullible no matter how sound our reasoning and research and those who defend vaccination are considered educated and sensible no matter how uninformed their stance is.) Obviously, Sidney Crosby and his fellow hockey players, referees and coaches who have been infected are all alive. Mumps is generally not deadly or even complicated unless you happen to be very immunocompromised. Even complications such as aseptic meningitis are usually mild with a good prognosis.

We keep hearing statistics that say that before the vaccine was introduced there were 200,000 cases of mumps every year and then the disease quickly dropped off after the advent of mumps vaccination. OK, so there were 200,000 cases. But why in and of itself is this a public health catastrophe? The answer is that it really isn’t a public health catastrophe.

Much has been said about the possibility of orchitis (infection of the testicles) in teenage boys and men, however, infection is unilateral most of the time, meaning that it only infects one testicle, allowing a man to still carry plenty of sperm to have children. In rare cases, fertility can be impaired, but sterility is extraordinarily rare. A condition called oophoritis (benign inflammation of the ovaries) occurs in about 5% of women and post-pubertal girls, though it does not affect fertility. Mumps during pregnancy can increase the risk of spontaneous abortion. But isn’t this why vaccination is so crucial, you say? We need to protect the adult population because these diseases can have more severe effects when they strike adult populations.

Actually, this is why it might be in the public’s best interest not to vaccinate for mumps.

Before vaccination was introduced en masse, mumps was a childhood disease. People would usually get it as young children (before puberty increased the chances of more complications) and then have life-long immunity. Trying to prevent children from getting the mumps actually opens them up to more complications later on and deprives them of life-long immunity that would protect them once they are adults. This is especially crucial when the vaccine lacks efficacy. Yep, this latest high profile outbreak of mumps has brought to light some rather uncomfortable truths and accusations about the MMR shot, especially when a star hockey player gets sick after receiving a booster shot.

Public health officials have now admitted that the vaccine is only about 88% effective- which sounds high until you realize that out of 100 vaccinated individuals, 10-15 will develop mumps. That’s not the very small percentage that the CDC has claimed for vaccine failure. Even more disturbing are the allegations from former Merck employees that Merck manipulated the results of its studies on the MMR vaccine efficacy to make the vaccine seem more effective than it actually is. In fact, in 2006 there were 6,500 cases of mumps reported in a highly vaccinated population and in 2009 there were 5,000 in a highly vaccinated population. Where was herd immunity when that happened?

So what does all of this really mean? It means that mumps is a very mild disease, especially when it is contracted during childhood. So before vaccination, we had 200,000 cases of mostly children experiencing an uncomfortable but mild illness and then having lifelong immunity to protect them into their teen and adult years. (And this immunity was completely free and easily available to everyone.) After vaccination, we have a solution that has a 10-15% failure rate at its best. At its worst, the MMR vaccine may very well be less effective than the medical community has represented because Merck may have deliberately manipulated data on the MMR shot. Regardless of its actual effectiveness, one thing is for sure: vaccine manufacturers make a lot more money by administering multiple doses of mumps vaccine than simply allowing people to develop natural immunity.