Sep 08 2013

Measles and the Truth about Vaccines

Vaccinations are perhaps the greatest discovery in modern medicine. Over the one hundred plus years they have prevented the spread of deadly deadly diseases caused by bacteria and virus, and, as in the case of smallpox completely eradicating the disease. Polio, too, is on the verge of being eliminated, except for pockets of resistance in some areas that are plagued by the ignorance of fanatic religiosity and politics.

Measles is a dangerous disease that is completely preventable with a vaccination. It is not a disease to be “screwed around with” as Phil Plait of Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog asserts:

Out of 1,000 people who contract it, one or two will die, and many more will require hospitalization. In general, those at risk are seniors and infants too young to be vaccinated. Approximately 100,000 children a year worldwide die of measles. That’s more than the entire population of my hometown of Boulder, Colo. Imagine an entire city of children dying from a preventable disease, and perhaps you can understand why I’m so vocal about this.

The vaccine for measles is safe. Phil debunks the misinformation and myths about the Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine (MMR) and other vaccines at his other blog AntiAntiVax: The Truth About The Evils Of Vaccination

  • Some in the anti-vax movement claim that the MMR has/had mercury in it. However, the MMR vaccine does not and never has had any mercury in it.
  • The basis of the “MMR vaccine causes autism” argument is a flawed study (retracted by The Lancet on February 2, 2010) by Andrew Wakefield, who had several ethics breaches, including failure to disclose financial compensation from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR cause their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.
  • A 2009 study, titled “Lack of association between measles-mumps-rubella vaccination and autism in children: a case control study” examined whether there was a relationship between MMR and autism and concluded that there was no association.
  • Independent studies trying to replicate Wakefield’s results have come up negative. To date, no properly controlled study has shown a causal link between vaccines and autism.
  • Many opponents of the MMR will claim that the diseases prevented are mild and not dangerous.  This is not the case, as can be seen in numerous outbreaks around the world.  Measles can lead to encephalitis (swelling of the brain) in about 1 of every 1,000 individuals, possibly leading to death.  Mumps can lead to sterility in adult men, swollen ovaries or breasts in adult women and miscarriage in pregnant women, as well as encephalitis.  Rubella (German measles) can cause encephalitis, as well as birth defects if contracted by a pregnant woman.  There is also some evidence to suggest that infection with rubella while pregnant is the cause of some cases of autism.


Yet there is still resistance to vaccinations, even here in the US, where there is an anti-vaccination movement led mostly by religious fundamentalists and faith healers.

Measles Outbreak Hits Texas Church That Preached Against Vaccines

A Texas megachurch known for preaching against the use of vaccines has been hit by an outbreak of measles, a highly contagious virus for which there is no known cure. Measles can be prevented by vaccination.

So far, at least 16 people have contracted measles, all of whom are connected to Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas. Per USA Today, the church’s senior pastor, Terri Pearsons, has been critical of measles vaccinations in the past.

In a segment on his MSNBC show All In, host Chris Hayes discusses the outbreak, the larger culture of information, and misinformation around vaccinations, as well as, the anti-vaccination crowd’s impact on vaccination culture, with Arthur Caplan, Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University and  Seth Mnookin, author of the book “The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear.”

See your doctor or health clinic. Vaccinations are free under the 2010 Affordable Care act. Get you and your family vaccinated.

1 comment

  1. TMC

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