Ah, measles. Lately, this has been a pet source of hysteria for doctors, health departments and the media. And the more hysterical one is about measles, the more logical he or she is perceived as being. States like California are now requiring the MMR shot not only for school children, but any adults working with children. People are running around terrified that if we stop vaccinating for measles that a death toll like that of the 1800’s will return. Massive death and disability will follow they say. However, I think it would do everyone well to take a look at the facts of what it would mean to return to the pre-vaccine measles era.
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. As another point of comparison, 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. And the CDC says that before the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine in 1995 that 100-150 people died every year from varicella.
The Following Conditions Are All More Prevalent Than Death or Disability From Measles in the Pre-Measles Vaccine Era:
- By the end of this year, there will be approximately 589,430 deaths from cancer in the United States. There were about 14.5 million Americans with a history of cancer alive on January 1, 2014. By the end of 2015, around 1,658,370 new cases of cancer will have been diagnosed in America.
- Approximately 610,000 people die from heart disease in the United States every year.
- 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.
- According to the CDC, in 2013 2 million people developed antibiotic resistant bacterial infections and 23,000 died as a result of an antibiotic resistant bacterial infection.
- In 2013 there were 4,548 cases of Legionellosis (a bacterial infection that includes Legionaire’s Disease). Authorities think that cases of Legionellosis are probably greatly underreported though, so this number may be only the tip of the iceberg.
- There are about 38,851 unintentional poisoning deaths every year in the US.
- There are about 33,804 motor vehicle traffic deaths every year in the US.
- According to the CDC approximately 3,000 people die annually from food borne illnesses acquired in the United States.
- Around 50,000 new cases of HIV are diagnosed in the United States every year. An estimated 13,712 people with an AIDS diagnosis died in 2012.
- About 1,500 babies died of SIDS in 2013.
- Annually, about 650 mothers die from pregnancy or delivery complications in the United States every year.
- In 2014, 370 cases of vaccine injury were deemed compensable.
And you’re freaking out over a return to pre-vaccine era measles statistics? Before you start raging at vaccine refusers, consider the amount of junk food you are eating that could be clogging up your arteries, the sanitation of restaurants you eat at, your own driving habits, the massive prescription of antibiotics and how you store toxic chemicals in your home. Because those things are all more likely to kill than measles.