by Barbara Loe Fisher
On Sept. 12, 2013, public health officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) called a press conference to announce that vaccination rates among pre-school children are “high and stable” and “less than 1% are unvaccinated.” 1
More than 90 percent of American toddlers have gotten a measles containing MMR shot by age three, along with many doses of 10 other government recommended vaccines.
159 Measles Cases Reported This Year in U.S.
But health officials warned there have been 159 cases of measles reported so far this year, the second highest number of measles cases reported in one year since 2000. They put the blame on 92 unvaccinated Americans diagnosed with measles who had “philosophical objections” to vaccination, such as orthodox Jews in New York City and Christians attending a church in Texas, which they described as “clusters of people with like-minded beliefs leading them to forego vaccines.” 2 3 4
There have been no measles-related deaths in the U.S. this year; however one government official said that 160,000 people around the world die from measles every year and the infection is “literally a plane ride away.” She warned that “the measles virus can hang out in the air and if you are in the same waiting room as someone with measles you will get measles if you never had it.” 5
Americans Born Before 1957 Have Natural Immunity
In the interest of full disclosure, I should acknowledge that when I was a child I did get measles and so did my sister and brother and all my friends. It started off with a fever, runny nose, sore throat and white spots inside our mouths and then an itchy red rash on our faces that spread all over and I remember wearing sunglasses in the house because the light hurt my eyes. My parents and grandparents and their sisters and brothers also had measles when they were children. When I was growing up in the 1950’s, measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox were infections we all experienced but our parents didn’t worry about those childhood diseases like they worried about polio.
Americans born before 1957 have naturally acquired immunity to measles and we passed antibodies on to our babies when they were born to protect them from measles during the first year of life. Because naturally acquired measles antibodies are different from vaccine antibodies, young vaccinated Moms today cannot give longer lasting naturally acquired measles antibodies to their newborns. 6
Things have definitely changed in the past 60 years.
American Children Highly Vaccinated
In August and September, the CDC published annual reports that once again confirmed American children are among the most highly vaccinated in the world. 7 8 9
In 2012, 95% of children entering kindergarten had gotten two
MMR shots and so had more than 90% of high school students. About 1.8% of kindergarten children had a medical or personal belief exemption to vaccination on file with schools.
: 95% of the approximately 75 million children under age 18 10
have gotten two doses of MMR vaccine and there is also a high measles vaccination rate among young adults in their 20’s and mid-30’s because, since 1981, 95% of all children entering kindergarten have received at least one dose of MMR vaccine and three or more doses of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio containing vaccines. 11
Now let’s take a look at what measles incidence and death rates looked like before and after the first measles vaccine was licensed in 1963.
Infections & Vaccine Reactions: Misdiagnosis & Underreporting
It is important to remember that, like B. pertussis whooping cough and other infectious diseases, measles has natural cyclical increases and decreases every few years in populations.12 13
Plus, not all pertussis 14 15
or measles infections 16 17
are diagnosed correctly by doctors and reported to government health officials and the same is true for diagnosis and reporting of vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths. 18 19 20
Before Vaccine: Millions of Measles Cases Not Reported
Before measles vaccine was licensed in 1963, the CDC admits there was massive underreporting of measles cases and that “because virtually all children acquired measles, the number of measles cases probably approached 3.5 million per year (.i.e., an entire birth cohort). ” 21
Other doctors say it was more like 5 million cases of measles occurring every year. 22
In 1960, three years before
the first measles vaccine was put on the market in the U.S., there were about 442,000 reported measles cases and 380 related deaths 23 24
among 3.5 to 5 million Americans.
After Vaccine: Decreases & Increases in Measles Case Reports
After 17 years of giving children measles vaccine, in 1980 there were only 13,500 reported measles cases and 11 related deaths. 25
But in 1990, about 28,000 measles cases and 64 deaths were reported in a population in which 95% of children entering kindergarten had gotten one MMR shot that public health officials had promised parents would give their children life long immunity to measles. 26
So the CDC added a second MMR shot to the child vaccine schedule and, by 2005, there were only 66 cases of measles reported. 27
However, in 2008 and 2011, there were a total of 362 reported measles cases, even as there were no deaths. 28
This brings us to the question of why there is so much publicity today about 159 measles cases identified in the U.S. this year in a population of 316 million.
Global Measles Eradication Endgame: 2015 - 2020
Well, what a lot of Americans do not know but need to know is that the World Health Organization is partnering with government health officials, multi-national pharmaceutical corporations and medical trade groups in a global measles eradication campaign patterned after the smallpox and polio eradication campaigns of the 20th
century. The goal is to eradicate measles (and rubella) from the earth by 2015 or at the latest by 2020. 29 30
Two Doses of MMR for Two Billion Children
In order to accomplish that goal in the next two to seven years, the plan is to make sure that at least 95% or more of the world’s two billion children 31
get two doses of MMR vaccine.
With a dose of MMR vaccine costing the CDC $20 to purchase from Merck while private pediatricians pay $56 a dose, 32
the cost of waging a global measles eradication campaign is astronomical. 33
Europe: Few Countries Mandate MMR
In Europe where many countries mandate polio vaccine and not MMR or other vaccines, 34
there have been tens of thousands of measles cases reported over the past decade.35 36
European health officials say that individuals with religious beliefs, as well as many “middle class people” using holistic health care alternatives for staying well, are resisting MMR vaccine promotion campaigns. 37
Public health doctors see the trend by educated consumers in many developed countries to move away from using lots of prescription drugs and vaccines 38 39 40
as a threat to infectious disease eradication programs.
Public Health Doctors: How Far Will They Go?
The question is: How far will public health doctors go to reach their goal of eradicating measles, rubella and many other infections with the mandated use of vaccines? 41 4243 44
We have seen a militarization of the public health system in the past century 45
to justify global vaccination campaigns to eradicate smallpox and polio.46 47 48 49
After Sept. 11, 2001, Congress and state legislatures granted greatly expanded police powers to government health officials to detain, quarantine and force vaccine use without the voluntary, informed consent of citizens whenever government officials declare a “public health emergency.” 50 51 52
A War on Values & Beliefs
The public conversation about vaccination, health and autonomy has become ugly and divisive in the 21st
century because the War on Disease has been turned into a War on Values and Beliefs. 53 54 55 56 57 58
And it is making many people afraid and distrustful of doctors and government health officials using threats and sanctions to enforce one-size-fits-all vaccine policies and laws that force them to get not just two doses of MMR vaccine but dozens of doses of other vaccines. 59 60 61 62 63 64
Will The Oppression Escalate?
Is the current government-endorsed criticism of the values and spiritual beliefs of unvaccinated Americans, who have been diagnosed with measles, just the first step toward even more oppression? Will it escalate into what we witnessed in 2007, when parents failing to show proof their children had gotten a chickenpox shot or hepatitis B shot, were threatened with stiff fines and jail time before being summoned by government officials to a Maryland courthouse patrolled by armed police with dogs to make sure their children got vaccinated? 65
I don’t think any of us know how far doctors working for government or drug companies and medical trade groups will go to pit citizens against each other in an effort to shun and punish anyone defending the human right to exercise freedom of thought, belief, conscience and informed consent to medical-risk taking, 66
which includes taking risks with liability free pharmaceutical products like vaccines. 67
Philosopher and human rights advocate Elie Wiesel has said “When you take an idea or a concept and turn it into an abstraction, that opens the way to take human beings and turn them
, also, into abstractions. When human beings become abstractions, what is left?” 68
Biological, Genetic & Environmental Differences Among Us
When public health officials embrace the concept of eradicating an infection from the world and achieving that goal means making sure that a certain number of children have gotten a certain number of vaccinations, it is very easy to turn children into abstractions and forget that human beings are not all the same and do not all react the same way to vaccines or infections.69 70 71 72
There are biological, genetic and environmental differences among us and that is why some of us get an MMR shot or experience measles and do not suffer complications while others of us do suffer complications and are brain injured or die.73 74 75 76 77 78 79
When doctors cannot predict ahead of time who will be harmed by a vaccine 80 81
or an infectious disease and they cannot guarantee that those who have been vaccinated are incapable of being infected or transmitting infection, 82 83 84 85
the precautionary and informed consent principles should not be eradicated from vaccine policies and laws just because public health officials have decided to embark on yet another infection eradication campaign.
The National Vaccine Information Center supports your civil and human right to exercise freedom of thought, conscience and informed consent to vaccination and make independent health care choices without being tracked down, bullied and punished by anyone. Become informed about measles and MMR vaccine and talk with one or more trusted health care professionals before making an educated health care decision.
to defend vaccine choices and exemptions in your state.
It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.
by Dawn Richardson, NVIC Director of Advocacy
It is back to school time and in most states if you want your children to attend public school classes, you will have to either make sure their vaccinations are completely up to date according to your state vaccine law schedule or submit a state approved medical, religious, or conscientious/philosophical exemption to the school. If you are a parent making an educated decision to delay or decline one or more state required vaccines, you are probably keenly aware of the increased media attacks on vaccine exemptions around the country.
Since the mid-20th century in America, parents have been exercising non-medical vaccine exemptions if they hold conscientious or religious beliefs opposing use of one or more vaccines or believe their children are at increased risk for physical harm if vaccines are given and cannot find a doctor to write a medical exemption.
U.S. Schoolchildren Have High Vaccination Rates
The vaccination rate among U.S. school children with “core” vaccines such as polio, DPT/DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis) and MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccines is 95% and it is one of the highest in the world. According to the Aug. 4, 2013 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
(MMWR) published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 1.8% of children entering kindergarten have a vaccine exemption for any reason.1
So why are there so many recent media reports trying to tie "outbreaks" of diseases on parents taking vaccine exemptions while advocating the institution of stricter "no exceptions" state vaccine laws?
CDC Changes Focus from Vaccine Coverage Rates to Vaccine Exemption Rates
The answer partly lies in the CDC’s recent shift in annual reporting of national and state vaccine coverage rates to include a strong focus on vaccine exemption rates.
State and local health departments have been tracking and reporting vaccination rates among school-aged children since 1978 2
and, since 1994, the CDC has published estimated vaccination rates for children 19 to 35 months old.3
The CDC has been publishing these vaccination rates in the MMWR
and other forums since then.4
A curious shift in the CDC’s reporting of kindergarten vaccination rates started in the year 2011 with very little explanation. For the first time, CDC officials began including state vaccine exemption rates in annual MMWR reports in addition to reporting on vaccine coverage rates among kindergarten children.5
Now “outbreaks” of vaccine exemptions were going to be tracked and published as if they were cases of infectious diseases themselves.
In 2011 CDC Says Exemption Rates Low
The CDC’s own June 3, 2011 MMWR
cites that “overall exemption rates were low,” among kindergarten children for the 2009/2010 school year with only one outside reference to a medical journal article6
that urged monitoring of vaccine exemptions because there were measles cases in schools where parents elected to not have their children vaccinated.7
Is it a coincidence that in 2011 - the same year federal public health officials shifted focus from vaccine coverage reporting to vaccine exemption reporting - the attacks by state public health officials on vaccine exemptions started in Washington state with the filing of HB1015 and SB5005 to restrict personal belief vaccine exemptions to require a doctor’s signature?8
If it is a coincidence, it is a very convenient coincidence.
With subsequent 2012 and 2013 MMWR
annual reports on kindergarten vaccine coverage rates also focusing on vaccine exemptions, especially personal belief exemptions,9, 10
more legislative attacks on personal belief exemptions ensued with bills filed in Vermont, Washington, Arizona, and Oregon to restrict vaccine exemptions.11
This occurred, even though annual MMWR
reports still published very low median non-medical exemption levels: 1.2% in 2011-201212
and 1.5% in 2012-2013.13
There is No Public Health Crisis To Justify Attacks on Vaccine Exemptions
So where are we now? There is no public health crisis to justify any further attacks on state based vaccine exemptions. According to the CDC’s most recent report in the MMWR published on August 2, 2013 entitled “Vaccination Coverage Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2012–13 School Year,” kindergarten vaccination rates continue to be high and exemptions rates are low. In the CDC’s own words:
- "Kindergarten vaccination coverage for most reporting awardees remained high and exemption levels remained stable for the 2012–13 school year compared with the 2011–12 school year."
- "For the 2012–13 school year, median vaccination coverage in the 48 states and the District of Columbia continued to be high, with medians of 94.5% for measles, mumps, rubella; 95.1% for diphtheria, tetanus toxoid, and acellular pertussis; and 93.8% for varicella vaccines. The level of exemptions remained low overall, with a median of 1.8%, and four awardees saw decreases of >1 percentage point for children with exemptions in the 2012–13 school year."
- "An exemption does not necessarily imply a child was not vaccinated. More than 99% of the 2006–2007 birth cohorts who became kindergarteners in 2012–13 received at least one vaccine"
- “Vaccine-preventable diseases continue to be transmitted despite high levels of vaccination at the national and state levels."14
Take Action Now to Protect Vaccine Exemptions
When a media report mischaracterizes vaccine exemptions, often the news outlet is simply repeating parts of a press release or background paper from a source which supports “no exceptions” mandatory vaccination policies rather than informed consent rights and advocates for the elimination of vaccine exemptions in state public health laws. This presents an opportunity to educate journalists, producers and opinion makers by providing accurate information to them.
If you see inaccurate reporting about state vaccine coverage rates and vaccine exemptions, especially mischaracterization of why parents defend the legal right to make educated, voluntary vaccine choices for minor children, please take the time to write or call the media outlet. Provide references cited in this article and ask for a correction to be issued.
As it gets closer to 2014 legislative sessions starting around the country, it becomes increasingly more important to have as many people as possible in every state receiving this NVIC Newsletter and NVIC Advocacy Portal Action Alerts. Clearly there is a problem with special interest groups, many of which are associated with the vaccine industry, unjustifiably attacking vaccine exemptions.
Please make sure you are registered for the NVIC Advocacy Portal at http://NVICAdvocacy.org
so we can help you stay informed and educate your lawmakers about how critical it is to protect legal vaccine exemptions, both medical and non-medical, in all state public health laws.