By Barbara Loe Fisher
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Every July 4 since our nation declared independence in 1776, Americans have celebrated this truth:
“…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” 1
The Declaration of Independence rejected unjust laws imposed by a privileged ruling class. The guiding principles of the Declaration of Independence were codified into the Bill of Rights to limit the power of government and protect our unalienable natural rights.
The First Amendment of the Constitution states that:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” 2
Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion
After World War II, natural rights were defined internationally as human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights published in 1948 states: 3
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person;” and
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood;” and
“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks;” and
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance;” and
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
These are among the globally recognized human rights that protect individuals and minorities from discrimination and the kind of government oppression that President Thomas Jefferson talked about when he warned:
“All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” 4
Freedom to Dissent Hallmark of Freedom
The legal right to dissent has been a hallmark of freedom in America. Unlike in authoritarian governments, 5 in our country, citizens have the right and responsibility to participate in the law making process. We have – or should have - the freedom to openly debate government policy, law and ethics in public forums and dissent from the majority without fear of intimidation or punishment. 6 7
But two and a half centuries after the Declaration of Independence, that is changing.
Autonomy, Protection of Bodily Integrity Attacked By New Ruling Class
An unprecedented attack on civil liberties and the right to dissent is being led by a new privileged ruling class whose power is not derived from aristocratic titles, wealth and political influence linked to genetic heritage and ownership of land. The power of the new ruling class in America is derived from academic titles, wealth and political influence linked to corporatized government 8 9 10 11 12 13 that seeks ownership of our physical bodies. 14 15 16 17 18
The right to autonomy and protection of bodily integrity is the first human right. 19 20 If you cannot voluntarily decide when and for what reason you are willing to risk your life or the life of your child, your unalienable right to life and liberty has been taken from you.
Whether you do or do not agree that every liability free vaccine product sold by pharmaceutical companies is safe and effective, or that federal vaccine policy is anchored with sound science, or that mandatory vaccination laws without informed consent protections are moral, you should take a hard look at recent actions by government officials and corporations to censor and repeal civil liberties that safeguard your human right to autonomy and protection of bodily integrity.
Defaming People and Delegitimizing Civil Liberties with Yellow Journalism
The extraordinary efforts by industry, medical trade and government to delegitimize free speech about vaccination unless it conforms with government policy has given a green light to corporate-owned mainline media outlets to use name calling and other yellow journalism techniques to legitimize the stripping of civil liberties from public health laws. Today, any parent, 21 22 23 doctor, 24 25 research scientist, 26 27 journalist, 28 29 celebrity, 30 31 32 politician, 33 philanthropist 34 35 or non-governmental organization 36 37 38 asking questions about the quality of vaccine science or the ethics of laws requiring use of a liability-free pharmaceutical product that can harm or fail to work, is immediately labeled as an “anti-vaxxer” 39 40 41 42 and publicly defamed, 43 humiliated, 44 discredited 45 and relentlessly targeted for personal and professional ruin. 46 47 48
When the risks of vaccination turn out to be 100 percent for a child and parents describe what happened, their suffering is magnified when journalists gaslight them for witnessing in the public square. It is a shameful display of ignorance and prejudice against biologically vulnerable children and their parents who have been compelled to unequally bear the risks of vaccination for society, and are being demonized for advocating for safer vaccines and more scientifically informed and humane public health policies. 49 50 51 52 Most of all, it is a dangerous assault on freedom of speech by a profession that should be pushing back on discrimination and the erosion of civil liberties, not actively condoning it.
Despite Congress officially acknowledging the fact that vaccines can injure and kill in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, 53 and even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that government licensed vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” so that the multi-billion dollar vaccine industry cannot be held accountable in a court of law for failing to improve the safety of vaccine products, 54 today anyone who publicly questions vaccine safety or advocates for voluntary vaccination is treated like a criminal.
Well-referenced, factual information about vaccine risks and failures is being automatically slapped with the label “misinformation” so it can be censored. 55
Those who advocate for informed consent protections in vaccine laws are called “anti-vaccine” so they can be silenced.
Benjamin Franklin, co-author of the Declaration of Independence, 56 warned:
“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.” 57
Half of US Adults Doubt Vaccine Safety
When people are oppressed by unjust laws and speak up, those in control of lawmaking often resort to censorship to silence calls for reform and force compliance. Your freedom to think, speak and dissent has been put in jeopardy this year at precisely the same time that growing numbers of people in the U.S., Europe and other nations are expressing increased, legitimate concern about the safety of vaccines. 58 59
A recent poll found that nearly half of American adults doubt vaccine safety and of the 45 percent who do, 16 percent were influenced by online information, 16 percent were influenced by knowledge of past secrets and wrongdoing by the pharmaceutical industry and 12 percent were influenced by information from medical experts. 60
Government Officials Call for Censorship of Freedom of Speech on the Internet
So this year, powerful federal legislators have sent a series of letters telling the CEO’s of Google, Facebook and Amazon 61 62 that, “there is no evidence to suggest that vaccines cause life-threatening or disabling diseases,” and that, “the dissemination of unfounded and debunked theories about the dangers of vaccination a great risk to public health.” 63 The social media platforms were directed to remove vaccine “misinformation” and replace it with “medically accurate information.”
This year Americans have watched government health officials making false statements in congressional hearings denying that vaccines like MMR cause brain inflammation and claiming that doctors can predict which children will be harmed. 64 65 And even though thousands of parents traveled to those hearings stacked with witnesses blaming “anti-vaccine misinformation” for disease outbreaks, not one individual was allowed to testify offering a different perspective. 66 67 The FDA Commissioner even threatened state legislators that if they did not restrict or remove vaccine exemptions, the federal government would step in and “mandate certain rules about what is and isn’t permissible when it comes to allowing people to have vaccine exemptions.” 68 69 70
After thousands of Americans showed up at public hearings in multiple states to testify against proposed laws to remove vaccine exemptions, 71 72 73 by June only the state of Washington had eliminated the conscientious belief exemption for MMR vaccine, 74 and Maine had eliminated both the religious and conscientious belief exemption for all vaccines. 75
Then, on June 13, 2019, the New York legislature suddenly rammed a bill to repeal the religious exemption to vaccination through both the Assembly and Senate in one day with no public hearings. 76 77 78 This legislative coup completely cut the citizens of New York out of participating in the law making process. 7980 Within hours, the Governor of New York signed the bill into law and issued a press release quoting one of the bill’s sponsors declaring, “I am incredibly proud that science has won with the passage of this bill. We should be taking medical advice from medical professionals, not strangers on the internet spreading pseudo-science misinformation.” 81
In the weeks leading up to the vote, major newspapers published editorials. 82 83 84 The Partnership for New York City, which represents more than 350 major city employers, including Pfizer, Google, Microsoft and other corporations, also sent a letter to legislators calling for an end to the religious vaccine exemption. 85 86
Many of the lobbyists argued that no major religion has a tenet opposing vaccination, even though vaccine products were not being mandated by governments until long after the world’s major religions were founded. 87 In addition, the U.S. constitution prohibits our government from requiring citizens holding sincere personal spiritual or religious beliefs to identify with an organized religion or be a member of a certain church in order to receive equal protection under the law. 88
The justification for violating the religious freedom of New York residents 89 was primarily based on more than 1,000 cases of measles reported in 28 states this year, with 800 cases identified in several New York City neighborhoods, although there have been no reported measles deaths or injuries. 90 About 75 percent of the New York measles cases have been confirmed in unvaccinated persons with the majority living in orthodox Jewish communities holding sincere religious beliefs opposing the use of vaccines. 91 92 About 97 percent of children attending kindergarten in New York have received two doses of MMR vaccine compared to more than 94 percent of school children nationally. 93
Government health officials and the media blame unvaccinated school children for measles outbreaks. However, on May 25 NVIC published a special report on the history of measles and MMR vaccine providing documented evidence that MMR vaccine failures and waning immunity in vaccinated adults are equally responsible for reported measles outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations like ours. 94
The illusion of durable MMR vaccine herd immunity is rapidly dissolving. Measles is being transmitted by vaccinated persons, who are subclinically infected but are not being identified or reported because they show few or no symptoms, while unvaccinated persons fully expressing measles symptoms are being identified, reported and very well publicized. This information is not part of the public conversation when government officials and the media talk about measles outbreaks because it calls into question the accuracy of the narrative simplistically scapegoating unvaccinated children and their parents. 95
Since January, America has been operating under a perceived state of emergency. 96 97 98That happened after the World Health Organization announced that “the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate” - termed “vaccine hesitancy” - is one of top 10 “threats” to global health. 99 100 101 102The word “threat” is defined as one “regarded as a possible source of harm or danger.” 103 It is often used during wartime to elicit fear and hatred of an enemy that a government considers to be a danger to national security.
In any war, real or perceived, rational thinking is the first casualty of fear, which makes it easier for people to agree to a loss of freedom in exchange for a promise of protection from harm.
Just like in 2015 when cases of measles were reported at Disneyland, 104 105 106 107 this year there have been calls for public identification, criminal prosecution and imprisonment of unvaccinated people and parents who don’t vaccinate their children.108 109 110 Anyone who defends the informed consent ethic and criticizes the use of coercion to force compliance with one-size-fits all vaccine policies is called an “anti-vaxxer” and subjected to personal attacks on his or her intelligence, integrity, motives and patriotism in the name of protecting the public health.
The litmus test question is: Are you or have you ever been anti-vaccine? If you hesitate, qualify your answer, express doubt or admit to being currently or previously associated with a person or organization labeled as “anti-vaccine,” it is over. You are publicly condemned as an “anti-vaxxer” and a danger to society for infecting others with your opinions, values and beliefs. You are blacklisted and turned into a horrible warning for any person like you who is even thinking about speaking up. Often people recant or throw their friends and colleagues under the bus when threatened with excommunication from society for being labeled “anti-vaccine.”
There was another dark era in American history during the mid-20th century, known as “The Blacklist” or “McCarthy” era, when government officials operated in a climate of fear under a perceived state of emergency that was used to justify taking extreme measures in the name of protecting national security. Beginning in 1947 through 1954, federal legislators suspected there were “communist sympathizers” in government agencies and working in the fields of journalism and entertainment.
Congress held a series of hearings in the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) followed by U.S. Senate hearings chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI). 111 112 113 Americans suspected of being a threat to national security were summoned to publicly testify about their personal philosophical, religious and political beliefs and association with persons or organizations believed to be communist sympathizers, a term that became synonymous with being “anti-American.”
The litmus test question was: “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” If the person answered “yes” or refused to answer, he or she risked being blacklisted as a political subversive who infected others with opinions, values and beliefs that posed a danger to national security. Hundreds of Americans, including authors, artists, filmmakers and high profile Hollywood celebrities, were persecuted for their beliefs, sent to prison, denied employment or left the country in self-exile in order to find work. Often people recanted or threw their friends and colleagues under the bus when threatened with excommunication from society for being labeled “anti-American.”
Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, 114 who helped unmask the smear tactics used by Senator Joseph McCarthy that ended government inquisitions of the “blacklist era,” observed that:
“The right of dissent, or, if you prefer, the right to be wrong, is surely fundamental to the existence of a democratic society. That’s the right that went first in every nation that stumbled down the trail toward totalitarianism.”
On June 20, despite thousands of parents testifying against a bill that essentially eliminates the medical vaccine exemption in a state that has no personal belief exemption, 115 the California legislature Assembly Health Committee voted to give absolute power to state health officials to reject any exemption granted by a doctor that does not conform with federal vaccine policy. 116 In other states, legislators are moving to pass laws allowing doctors to vaccinate minor children without the knowledge or consent of their parents. 117 118
Americans are being coerced and denied not only an education, but medical care, insurance and employment for refusing one or more government recommended vaccines. 119 120 121 If you or your child have already suffered vaccine reactions or struggle with chronic brain and immune system problems that doctors deny can be made worse by getting re-vaccinated, you know what it feels like to live in perpetual fear that you will be hunted down and forced to get vaccines that could cause further damage to health. 122
If your life has not been touched by a vaccine reaction, there is no guarantee it won’t happen tomorrow. 123 Government electronic medical records tracking systems are monitoring every vaccine you do and do not take 124 125 and many new vaccines are being developed by industry and government that will be mandated for children and adults alike. 126
Do you want to be forced to use every new vaccine Big Pharma produces 127 and public health officials mandate without your voluntary informed consent? 128129 And what will be done to you if you refuse to comply? Will you be able to get a driver’s license or passport, shop in a store, go to a football game, enter a hospital emergency room, get on a bus or plane, or simply leave your home if you cannot show proof that you have complied with government vaccine policies? Will your unvaccinated children be taken from you? Will you be criminally prosecuted and imprisoned?
What has happened this year are signs that America may well be stumbling down the trail toward totalitarianism by allowing our inalienable rights to be taken away. But we, the people, have the power in our constitutional republic to secure our civil liberties if we refuse to live in fear and defend freedom of speech and conscience and the right to dissent, and if we elect lawmakers who cherish freedom as much as we do.
Unjust laws enacted today can be repealed tomorrow, but only if we wake up, stand up and never, ever give up.
Be the one who never has to say you did not do today what you could have done to change tomorrow.
It’s your health, your family, your choice. And our mission continues: No forced vaccination. Not in America.
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By Barbara Loe Fisher
To activate and view hyperlinked references, please click once and then click any superscripted number below to access a hyperlinked reference, or scroll down to the bottom of the article to view all hyperlinked references.
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. 1 2 3 The remedy is always a call to track down, persecute and punish any parent whose child is not vaccinated. 4 5 6
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. 7 8 9 10 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. 11
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. 12 13 14 15
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, 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 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. 23 24 Actually, though, an estimated three to five million Americans every year got wild type measles, usually before age 15. 25 26 27 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.28 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. 29 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.30
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. ” 31
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. 32 33
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. 34 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. 35 36 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. 37 38
The immune systems of infants do not function the same way as for older children and adults. 39 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. 40 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. 41 42 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. 43
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. 44
First Inactivated Measles Vaccine Lethal, Ineffective
The first inactivated measles virus vaccine turned out to be pretty lethal, as well as marginally effective. 45 46 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. 47 48 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. 49 It was described by the Surgeon General in 1963 as producing a “mild or inapparent, non-communicable measles infection.” 50 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. 51 To make the live measles vaccine less reactive, it had to be further attenuated in 1965 and, then again, in 1968. 52 53
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.” 54 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.” 55
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, 56 although in Great Britain the estimate was 1 death in 5,000 reported measles cases. 57 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. 58
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. 59 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.”
1973 MMR Eradication Campaign Fails, Measles Cases Increase in Older Children Despite 96 Percent Vaccination Rate
Regardless, in 1973, Merck was given a license to combine the live measles vaccine with live mumps and rubella vaccines in the attenuated MMR vaccine. Two years later, CDC officials tried to use MMR to eradicate measles by employing surveillance and containment strategies that worked to eradicate smallpox, even though they knew the highly contagious measles virus was quite different from the less contagious smallpox virus. The MMR eradication campaign in 1973 was a miserable failure. 60
Three years later, there was an unexplained resurgence of measles in the U.S. in children 10 to 19 years old. 61 Public health officials in the City of Los Angeles responded by declaring an emergency and, rather than quarantining sick children until they were well, 50,000 unvaccinated healthy children were excluded from schools until they got vaccinated.
This set the stage for state governments to institute “no shots, no school” laws 62 that, today, are the subject of much debate in state legislatures. 63 64 65
96 Percent Child Vaccination Rate and New 1982 Eradication Goal
By 1978, CDC officials announced that 96 percent of children entering schools in America had gotten a dose of measles vaccine, and said it was likely that measles would be eliminated from the U.S. by 1982. 66
Measles Sweeps Through Schools in Mid-1980s with Nearly 100 Percent Vaccination Rates Among Students
In 1983, there were only about 1500 reported cases of measles, 67 but there was a red flag: infants vaccinated in the first year of life were not protected from measles, even when they got more doses of the vaccine. 68 From 1985 to 1988, there were between 55 and 110 measles outbreaks every year in the U.S., primarily in highly vaccinated school-aged populations. 69 Measles swept through a middle school in Texas, where 99 percent of the students were vaccinated, and in a Massachusetts high school with a 98 percent vaccination rate. 70 71
The CDC did not get the science right in 1967 or 1978 and neither did Merck. The vaccine they said would eradicate measles by 1967 was not getting the job done. Twenty years later, vaccination rates among children in many schools were approaching 100 percent and vaccinated children were still getting and transmitting measles.
1989-1990 - Measles Cases Explode in North and Central America with Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children Hit Hard in U.S.
Then, in 1989-1990, measles cases exploded in North and Central America, including in the U.S. and were associated with unusually high morbidity and mortality. The CDC said they didn’t know why there were increases in measles but insisted that “measles vaccines appear to be as effective today as in the past,” while quietly admitting that “analysis of contemporary strains of measles virus suggest that circulating viruses may have changed somewhat from past strains. “ 72
There were more than 45,000 measles cases reported in the U.S. during 1989 and 1990, and over 100 deaths. Vaccinated school children were hit hard. A large number of cases also occurred in babies less than 15 months old and in unvaccinated toddlers, as well as in college students. 73
CDC: All Children Must Get TWO Doses of MMR Vaccine
By the end of 1989, the CDC recommended that children should get their first dose of MMR vaccine at age 15 months and all children should get a booster dose before entering kindergarten. “When fully implemented,” CDC officials said, “this schedule should lead to the elimination of measles among school aged children and college students.” They reassured physicians, parents and politicians that:
”Although the titers of vaccine-induced antibodies are lower than those following natural disease, both serologic and epidemiologic evidence indicate that vaccine-induced protection appears to be long lasting in most individuals.” 74
Why Was Measles Suddenly More Virulent?
I was a consumer member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) during the 1989-1990 measles outbreak, when a high number of vaccinated school children were getting measles and so were unvaccinated pre-school age children living in minority communities in inner city Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas and other urban areas. 75 An FDA scientist made a presentation to the committee revealing that the type of measles circulating appeared to be unusually virulent and associated with unexpected morbidity and mortality for unvaccinated infants under age one and also in vaccinated and unvaccinated children under age five. I thought that fact was worth exploring further, along with a need to analyze the biological mechanisms for vaccine failure before any conclusions were drawn or recommendations were made.
In 1991, I refused to sign a highly political white paper the committee published that stated, “The principal cause for the measles epidemic is failure to provide vaccine to children at the recommended age.” It rubber-stamped the CDC’s knee-jerk response to a long-standing problem with MMR vaccine failures, which was a new recommendation to give every child in America two doses of MMR vaccine. 76
1993: CDC Says Measles Is Deadly, Unvaccinated Children Cause Outbreaks
In 1993, President Clinton announced the Children’s Immunization Initiative to ensure that all children, especially those under age two, would be vaccinated according to the CDC’s recommended childhood vaccine schedule. 77 CDC officials published a paper pointing to the costs associated with the measles epidemic of 1989-1991 as a reason that more aggressive efforts were needed to give all children two doses of MMR vaccine. They also announced a plan to create a national vaccine tracking system to electronically monitor the vaccination status of all children from birth. They reminded everyone of the danger of measles and “the full magnitude of the harm that can be done by a so-called “mild” children’s disease,” which they said was mistakenly regarded for a long time by the public and many health professionals as “an unpleasant but not very dangerous part of life.”
The government’s message to the public in 1993 was: measles is deadly, outbreaks are caused by a failure to vaccinate enough children on time, and the solution is to spend more money to give more children more vaccine. One part of the 1993 children’s vaccine initiative – the federal Vaccines for Children program – today spends 4 billion dollars to buy vaccines for the states to administer to children. 78
Nobody wanted to talk about studies published in the medical literature investigating what Dr. Plotkin had described in 1973 as “secondary vaccine failures.”
MMR Vaccine Failures and Asymptomatic Infections Revealed
One U.S. study of a prolonged school-based outbreak of measles found that secondary vaccine failure and vaccine modified measles “may lead to underreporting of measles cases and result in overestimation of vaccine efficacy in highly vaccinated populations.” 79
In 1992, Canadian researchers had discovered that, “…contact with wild measles virus may act as a booster to the immune system in vaccinated subjects without causing any symptoms,” and that “secondary vaccine failure (SVF) might play a role in vaccinated populations during measles outbreaks.” 80
In 1993, there was enough evidence that vitamin A deficiency plays a big role in measles morbidity and mortality for the World Health Organization to issue a recommendation that vitamin A supplements should be given to children diagnosed with measles in developing countries. 81
In 1994, researchers analyzed school-based measles outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada and devised a hypothetical model to calculate vaccine failure rates and the percentage of measles cases occurring in vaccinated students if more than 95 percent of school children are vaccinated. They concluded:
“The apparent paradox is that as measles immunization rates rise to high levels in a population, measles becomes a disease of immunized persons. Because of the failure rate of the vaccine and the unique transmissibility of measles virus, the currently available measles vaccine, used in a single dose strategy, is unlikely to completely eliminate measles. The long term success of a two-dose strategy to eliminate measles remains to be determined.” 82
PCR Testing Reveals Mild and Subclinical Measles After MMR Vaccination
In 1995, new reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) lab test technology was used to detect and differentiate between the presence of wild type and vaccine strain measles virus in children with symptoms of measles. Japanese scientists isolated measles virus from children, who developed clinical signs of fever and rash three to nine days after they were given measles vaccine, and found that “one strain was of the vaccine type and the remaining six were the wild-type.” 83
That same year, CDC virologists used PCR technology to identify measles virus RNA in the urine of 15-month old children and young adults between one and 14 days after vaccination. They said;
“The changing epidemiology of measles in the form of mild measles cases in previously vaccinated individuals suggests that more asymptomatic or subclinical cases might be occurring. The frequency of such infections, which would not meet the standard case definition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is not known.” 84
New CDC Goal for Measles Elimination in U.S. – Year 2000
Even as measles outbreaks among infants, vaccinated school children and college students were raising serious questions about MMR vaccine failures, in 1998 CDC officials declared, “interruption of indigenous measles transmission appears to have occurred for the first time throughout the United States in 1993.” They set yet another goal to declare measles eliminated in the U.S., this time by the year 2000. 85
Measles Viruses “genetically distinct from vaccine strains” in 1989-1990
But 1998 was also the year that CDC officials confirmed that the 1989-1990 measles outbreak, which caused a higher number of hospitalizations and deaths, was associated with circulation of Group 2 measles viruses, particularly D3, that were “genetically distinct from vaccine strains.” 86 87
Newborn Infants More Susceptible to Measles, Lack Maternal Antibodies
In the meantime, a group of researchers at Stanford University found that “humoral immunity was deficient in 6-month old infants given measles vaccine…” They admitted that, “little is known about the maturation of the virus-specific immune responses in healthy infants following infection or immunization.” 88
A year later, CDC officials confirmed that, “infants whose mothers were born after 1963 are more susceptible to measles than are infants of older mothers.” Rather than reflect upon the ecological imbalance the measles vaccine campaign had created, they pressed forward with their “because we can” action plan and said, “this potential increase in infant mortality should provide additional impetus to strengthen efforts toward global eradication of measles disease” with intensive campaigns to vaccinate older children. 89
Mild or Asymptomatic Measles Infections “Common” In Fully Vaccinated Populations: Exposure to Wild Type Virus Boosts Immunity
At the same time, more scientific evidence was mounting that vaccinated persons could be asymptomatically infected with wild type measles and that an unknown number of people were experiencing subclinical measles infections that were not being identified or reported to the government. In published papers, CDC officials acknowledged that:
“Mild or asymptomatic measles infections are probably very common among measles-immune persons exposed to measles cases and may be the most common manifestation of measles during outbreaks in highly immune populations.” 90
German virologists agreed that:
“…measles virus (MV) could circulate in seropositive fully protected populations. Among individuals fully protected against disease, those prone to asymptomatic secondary immune response are the most likely to support subclinical MV transmission.” 91
In 1999, European researchers observed that:
“…a substantial proportion of individuals who respond to measles vaccine display an antibody boost accompanied by mild or no symptoms on exposure to wild virus.”
In addition, they said that in highly vaccinated populations, “neutralizing antibodies are decaying significantly in absence of circulating virus.” They estimated “the mean duration of vaccine induced protection in absence of re-exposure to be 25 years,” warning that, “there is a need to establish the intensity and duration of infectiousness in vaccinated individuals.” 92
Is Measles Herd Immunity Now A Combination of Natural and Vaccine Acquired Immunity?
So the question that was hanging in the air at the turn of the 21st century is one that is still relevant today:
If an unknown number of people with natural or vaccine acquired immunity are experiencing subclinical measles infections that are not being identified or reported to the government, has a certain level of herd immunity been maintained in the past because human populations are asymptomatically boosted through periodic exposure to the wild-type measles virus?
CDC Declares Measles Eliminated from U.S. in 2000
By the year 2000, more than 90 percent of 19 to 35 month old children and 98 percent of children entering school had received at least one dose of MMR vaccine. That year, the World Health Organization also reported that 80 percent of the world’s infants had gotten a dose of measles vaccine. 93
In the spring of 2000, the CDC held a meeting with 12 consultants and 10 resource specialists to talk about measles in the U.S. 94 Estimating that “at least 92 to 93 percent of the US population is immune to measles,” at the end of the meeting, participants concluded that “measles is not endemic in the United States at present.” This meeting is the source of the statements made by CDC officials today that, “Measles was declared eliminated (absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months) from the United States in 2000.” 95
WHO Sets Global Measles Eradication Goal for 2020
In 2001, the World Health Organization launched a global measles and rubella elimination plan, which was renewed in 2010 and again in 2012. Currently, 2020 is the target date for global eradication of measles through mass vaccination campaigns that will deliver two doses of MMR to every child in the world. 96
Measles Can Infect Previously Immune People and Cause Typical, Mild and Asymptomatic Infections
In 2002, more scientific evidence was published, this time out of Japan, to confirm that “measles virus can infect previously immune individuals,” both those who are naturally immune and those who have been vaccinated, and that the reinfection can produce “a wide range of illnesses: typical measles, mild modified measles and asymptomatic infection.” Researchers concluded that, “…the number of cases of measles among previously immunized individuals has increased, probably caused by waning of vaccine-induced immunity” and they suggested that: 97
“…asymptomatic measles infections occur even in the adult population with unexpectedly high frequency and this supports the preservation of measles immunity.”
Between 2000 and 2005, it appeared measles had all but disappeared from the U.S. with historically low numbers of reported cases - only 37 cases in 2004 - the lowest for any year on record. The CDC said most measles cases were imported from outside the country. 98
2008-2018: Measles Cases Increase in U.S, Unvaccinated Children Blamed
Then, between 2008 99 and 2018, 100 measles cases in the US started to increase. Even though less than two percent of children were attending school with a vaccine exemption, the explanation coming from public health officials was that measles outbreaks were caused by unvaccinated children. 101
In 2015, there was a highly publicized outbreak of measles in the U.S. that the CDC said began in California’s Disneyland and unvaccinated children were to blame. 102 103 Later it was revealed that that 30 percent of measles cases in California with vaccine records had been vaccinated, over half the cases were in adults, only 18 percent were school children, and a large number of suspected cases were not wild type measles but vaccine strain measles infections. 104 105
By that time, more than a decade of articles had been published in the medical literature calling for an end to religious and conscientious belief exemptions and restriction of the medical vaccine exemption for children. 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113
2019: Measles Outbreaks in U.S. and World
In January 2019, the World Health Organization announced that “vaccine hesitancy” is one of the top ten global health threats. 114 By March 2019, about 2,000 cases of measles had been reported in a European Union population of 512 million people. 115 By mid-April, the World Health Organization reported a worldwide resurgence of measles with 112,000 cases reported in 170 countries, which WHO officials said reflected about 10 percent of all cases. 116 117
By May 13, 2019, the CDC had confirmed 839 cases of measles in 23 states in a U.S. population of 328 million people. 118
Unprecedented Response by Public Health Officials and Media
The government and media response to measles outbreaks has been both unprecedented and uniform. 119 In Rockland County, New York instead of quarantining people infected with measles, government officials threatened parents of healthy unvaccinated children with fines and imprisonment if their children appeared in public spaces – the first time that has been done in American history. 120 121 122 It wasn’t done for smallpox or polio. But it has been done for measles.
Unvaccinated children and adults living, working or visiting in neighborhoods with certain zip codes in Brooklyn have been threatened with steep fines if they are found to have been in contact with someone with measles. 123 124 An entire cruise ship was quarantined for weeks because passengers had been exposed to a crewmember, who tested positive for measles. 125
The response to measles outbreaks by public health officials and the media this year is so over-the-top, you would think the human race is hovering on the brink of extinction. 126 127 128 129 A friend of a certain age who also had measles as a child, said the hysteria reminds her of an old government propaganda film from the 1940’s, “Reefer Madness,” where every person who smokes marijuana turns into a raving lunatic. 130
But for post-baby boomer generations who cut their teeth on Zombie Apocalypse movies, the propaganda message of choice appears to be one that teaches people to be afraid, be very afraid of the unvaccinated, who are going to turn our planet into the Night of the Living Dead, 131 132 133 134 and should be publicly identified, shamed, hunted down and – what?
Taking a look at the science is useful to get a grip on an over-publicized fear campaign that is turning Americans against each other: parents against parents, doctors against patients, sons against mothers, friends against friends. 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 It is a shameful display of ignorance, prejudice and discrimination being promoted by individuals in academia, the medical community, public health and journalism and it should not be happening in a society that has historically valued equality and freedom of thought, speech, and conscience. 143 144 145 146 147
What the Science Says About Measles and Vaccine Failures
Here is what scientists have been saying recently about what they do and don’t know about measles and measles vaccine failures:
From the Vaccine Research Group at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic:
- “While the current vaccine used in the USA and many other countries is safe and effective, paradoxically in the unique case of measles, it appears to insufficiently induce herd immunity in the population;“ 148
- Even with two doses of MMR vaccine, an individual can fail to either mount or sustain a protective immune response. Up to 10 percent of those given two doses “fail to develop protective humoral immunity and those antibody levels wane over time, which can result in infection;” 149
- Individuals respond differently to vaccination and each individual’s genes play a role in controlling measles vaccine-induced immune responses. Scientists still do not completely understand “how the immune response is generated” or “how host genetic and epigenetic variations change and impact vaccine immune responses,” or “how pathogens interact with the immune system.” 150
- “The importance of cellular immunity to vaccine-induced protection is not completely understood.” Some children with no detectible measles antibodies may still be protected against measles, which supports the “involvement of cellular immunity.” 151
- Scientists do not have “a detailed understanding of the pathogenesis of the measles virus” or of vaccine-induced innate and adaptive (humoral) immunity. Better correlates of protection “that go beyond measuring antibody titers” are needed. There is not enough information about what drives a vaccine response, a vaccine non-response, adverse events following vaccination and the many complex interactions between immune function-related components. 152
- Genetic ancestry is a significant determinant of vaccine responses. In one cohort study, Caucasians and most Hispanics, ethnic groups, which represent nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population, showed significantly lower humoral and cellular responses to MMR vaccination than African Americans. 153
From microbiologists at the College Medical Sciences in India:
- “The measles virus (MeV) is serologically monotypic but genotyping confirms eight clades (A-H). The clades are further subdivided into 23 genotypes….Although sera from vaccinated individuals neutralize all the clades, the efficacy varies from clade to clade. It may be said that the level of protection offered by this vaccine varies from genotype to genotype. ” 154
- “The present vaccine does not offer complete protection assurance and the limitations are evident now. Newer strains show epitopes that are not shared by vaccine strains. Variations in the efficacy of neutralization in the vaccinated individuals against wild MeV has been reported.” 155
From a virologist with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health:
- “The original Edmonston strain of MeV is not available and genotype A viruses are extinct, so it is not possible to directly compare attenuated vaccine viruses with the original WT virus from which they were derived….sequences of vaccine strains compared with current WT strains reveal differences in most viral proteins, any of which may contribute to attenuation and no one change or combination of changes has been identified as responsible for attenuation;” 156
- “Despite long use of measles vaccine, neither the determinants of attenuation nor of protective immunity have been identified and deserve investigation. The reasons for failures of the formalin-inactivated vaccine and the high titer live virus vaccine are only partially understood and provide cautionary tales for development of other vaccines.” 157
Just out of Australia, scientists reported in May 2019 that there is evidence for “waning measles immunity among vaccinated individuals” that is “associated with secondary vaccine failure and modified clinical illness” with “transmission potential.” 158
This finding confirms the scientific evidence coming from Berlin, Germany in April that: 159
“Although measles cases have gradually declined globally since the 1980s together with an increase in vaccination coverage, there has been a resurgence of measles in the European Union and European Economic Area starting in 2017 with adults aged over 20 years comprising more than a third of all cases.”
“The impact of waning immunity to measles will likely become more apparent over the coming years and may increase in the future, as the vaccinated population (with hardly any exposure to measles) will grow older and the time since vaccination increases. It is worth noting that the median age of measles cases has been increasing over the past 15 years in Berlin and the extent of waning immunity may increase further. Vaccinated cases have a lower viraemia and have rarely been observed to contribute to transmission. However, with the vaccinated population turning older and titres possibly decreasing further, this observation has to be re-evaluated.”
There are unanswered questions that need to be answered, such as:
- How many unvaccinated children are being diagnosed with measles because they are fully expressing symptoms and are more easily identified and reported, while vaccinated children and adults are being asymptomatically infected or are only experiencing mild symptoms that are never identified or reported?
- And how will waning vaccine immunity and the emergence of new measles strains impact the lives of pregnant women and their newborn infants, who no longer have measles maternal antibodies, and the immune-compromised, who have been told that forcing everyone else to get vaccinated will create herd immunity and protect them?
1984 Prediction: More Measles After Vaccination Campaign
In 1984, an article was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The author made a prediction of what the impact of giving all children measles vaccine would have by the year 2050 in the U.S. 160 A computer model simulation revealed that during the prevaccine era, approximately 10.6 percent of the population was susceptible to measles, most being children under 10 years old. After the institution of the measles vaccine program, the proportion of susceptibles fell to 3.1 percent from 1978 to 1981 but then began to incrementally rise every year.
The prediction was that, by the year 2050, about 10.9 percent of the population would be susceptible to measles and, instead of measles primarily infecting children under age 10, the cases would be distributed evenly among all age groups. The conclusion was that measles elimination in the U.S. being achieved in the late 20th century was a combination of vaccinating young susceptibles combined with the presence of a highly immune adult population that had natural immunity. However, there was a prophetic warning about measles for those living in 21st century America:
“Despite short-term success in eliminating the disease, long range projections demonstrate that the proportion of susceptibles in the year 2050 may be greater than in the prevaccine era.” 161
Scapegoating Parents to Explain Failed Measles Eradication Program
As the 72 million adults of the baby boomer generation come to the end of their lives, 162 163the last generation with robust natural measles immunity from childhood, which has greatly contributed to herd immunity in this population - it is long past time for public health officials to reevaluate what they are doing. Because, for more than 55 years, they have stubbornly ignored persistent signs that the hypothesis of the medical experiment they have been conducting was fundamentally flawed. Instead, their answer to measles outbreaks, always, has been to simplistically order children to get more MMR vaccine and to scapegoat parents of unvaccinated children for a problem parents did not create and do not own. 164 165 166 167
When vaccine policy and law precedes the science, we all pay the price. People should not be forced to use vaccines that not only cause harm but also, clearly, fail to work as advertised. 168 169 170 171
Go to NVIC.org and read this report. Look at the references documenting the information. Share it with others. Educate your legislators.
Knowledge is power. Be the one who never has to say that you did not do today what you could have done to change tomorrow.
It’s your health, your family, your choice.
Note: This commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers. The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.
Click the plus sign at the bottom of this page to view and/or post comments on our commentary.
1 Editorial Board. How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers. New York Times Jan. 19, 2019.
2 Keneally M. Parents who don’t vaccinate kids tend to be affluent, better educated, experts say. ABC Jan. 29, 2019.
3 Belluz J. Measles is Back in the US Because States Make It Too Easy to Avoid Vaccines. Vox Feb. 16, 2019.
4 Kayyem J. Anti-vaxxers are dangerous. Make them face isolation, fines, arrests. Washington Post Apr. 30, 2019.
5 Coleman PA. The Anti-Vaxxers Spreading Measles in Portland Should Be Arrested. Yahoo Feb. 26, 2019.
6 Siegel E, Berezow A. Opting Out of Vaccines Should Opt You Out of American Society. Scientific American Mar. 21, 2019.
7 National Vaccine Information Center. More Than 100 Bills Proposed in 30 States to Expand, Restrict or Eliminate Vaccine Informed Consent Rights. Feb. 17, 2019.
8 Sun L. Anti-Vaxxers Face Backlash at Measles Cases Surge. Washington Post/Los Angeles Times Feb. 28, 2019.
9 Neighmond P. States Move to Restrict Parent’s Refusal to Vaccinate Their Kids. NPR Feb. 28, 2019.
10 Taub D. Pan’s Bill Would Further Restrict Vaccine Exemptions for Schoolkids. GV Wire Mar. 26, 2019.
11 Fisher BL. Taking No Prisoners in the Vaccine Culture War. NVIC Newsletter Mar. 13, 2019.
12 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About Measles and Measles Vaccination. Feb. 5, 2018.
13 World Health Organization (WHO). Measles and Rubella Global Strategic Plan 2012-2020 Midterm Review. October 2016.
14 Orenstein WA. The Role of Measles Elimination in Development of a National Immunization Program. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2006; 25(12): 1093-1101.
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50 Terry LT. The Status of Measles Vaccines: A Technical Report. J Natl Med Assoc 1963; 55(5): 453-455.
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52 Hilleman MR, Buynak EB et al. Development and Evaluation of the Moraten Measles Virus Vaccine. JAMA 1968; 206(3): 587-590.
53 Immunization Action Coalition (IAC). Vaccine Timeline Historic Dates and Events Related to Vaccines and Immunization: 1965 and 1968.
54 Spencer DJ, Dull HB, Langmuir AD. Epidemiologic basis for eradication of measles in 1967. Public Health Rep 1967; 82: 253-256.
55 Plotkin SA. Failures of protection by measles vaccine. J Pediatr 1973; 82(5): 908-911.
56 Englehardt SJ, Halsey NA et al. Measles mortality in the United States 1971-1975. Am J Pub Health 1980; 70(11): 1166-1169.
57 Miller CL. Current impact of measles in the United Kingdom. Rev Infect Dis 1983; 5(3): 427-432.
58 CDC. Complications of Measles. Feb. 5, 2018.
59 Conrad JL, Wallace R, Witte JJ. The epidemiologic rationale for the failure to eradicate measles in the United States. Am J Public Health 1971; 61(11): 2304-2310.
60 Orenstein WA. The Role of Measles Elimination in Development of a National Immunization Program. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2006; 25(12): 1093-1101.
61 Orenstein WA, Halsey NA et al. Current Status of Measles in the United States 1973-1977. J Infect Dis 1978; 137(6): 847-858.
62 Orenstein WA. The Role of Measles Elimination in Development of a National Immunization Program. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2006; 25(12): 1093-1101.
63 National Vaccine Information Cennter. More than 100 Bills Proposed in 30 States to Expand, Restrict or Eliminate Vaccine Informed Consent Rights. NVIC Newsletter Feb. 14, 2019.
64 Radnovich C. Bill to remove vaccine exemptions returns to Oregon Capitol, sparks charged debate. Salem Statesman Journal Apr. 23, 2019.
65 Vaccination Exemption Bill Heads to Colorado Senate Floor with Little Time Left. The Gazette May 2, 2019.
66 Hinman AR, Kirby CD et al. Elimination of indigenous measles from the United States. Rev Infect Dis 1983; 5(3): 538-545.
67 Atkinson WL, Orenstein WA, Krugman S. The resurgence of measles in the United States, 1989-1990. Annu Rev Med 1992; 43: 451-463.
68 Linnemann CC, Dine MS et al. Measles Immunity After Revaccination: Results in Children Vaccinated Before 10 Months of Age. Pediatrics 1982; 69(3).
69 Atkinson WL, Orenstein WA, Krugman S. The resurgence of measles in the United States, 1989-1990. Annu Rev Med 1992; 43: 451-463.
70 Gustafson TL, Lievens AW et al. Measles outbreak in a fully immunized secondary-school population. N Engl J Med 1987; 316(13): 771-774.
71 Nkowane BM, Bart SW et al. Measles outbreak in a vaccinated school population: epidemiology, chains of transmission and the role of vaccine failures. Am J Public Health 1987; 77(4): 434-438.
72 Atkinson WL, Orenstein WA, Krugman S. The resurgence of measles in the United States, 1989-1990. Annu Rev Med 1992; 43: 451-463.
73 Wood DL, Brunell PA. Measles control in the United States: problems of the past and challenges for the future. Clin Microbiol Rev 1995; 8(2): 260-267.
74 CDC. Measles Prevention: Recommendations of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP). MMWR Dec, 29, 1989; 38(S-9): 1-18.
75 National Vaccine Information Center. Bio – Barbara Loe Fisher.
76 Henderson DA, Dunston FJ et al. The Measles Epidemic: the Problems, Barriers, and Recommendations. JAMA 1991; 266(1): 1547-1552.
77 Robinson CA, Sepe SJ, Lin KF. The president’s child immunization initiative – a summary of the problem and the response. Public Health Rep 1993; 108(4): 419-425.
78 DHHS. FY2017 CDC Budget in Brief: Vaccines for Children Program. Feb. 16, 2016.
79 Edmonson MB, Addiss DC et al. Mild measles and secondary vaccine failure during a sustained outbreak in a highly vaccinated population. JAMA 1990; 263(18): 2467-2471.
80 Oszanne G, d’Halewyn MA. Secondary Immune Response in a Vaccinated Population during a Large Measles Epidemic. J Clin Microbiol 1992; 30(7): 1778-1782.
81 American Academy of Pediatrics. Vitamin A Treatment of Measles. Pediatrics 1993; 91(5).
82 Poland GA, Jacobson RM. Failure to reach the goal of measles elimination. Apparent paradox of measles infections in immunized persons. Arch Intern Med 1994; 154(16): 1815-1820.
83 Kobune F, Funatu M et al. Characterization of measles viruses isolated after measles vaccination. Vaccine 1995; 13(4): 370-372.
84 Rota PA, Khan AS et al. Detection of Measles Virus RNA in Urine Specimens from Vaccine Recipients. J Clin Microbiol 1995; 33(9): 2485-2488.
85 Watson JC, Redd SC et al. The interruption of transmission of indigenous measles in the United States during 1993. Pediatr Infect Dis J 1998; 17(5): 363-377.
86 Bellini WJ, Rota PA. Genetic Diversity of Wild-Type Measles Viruses: Implications for Global Measles Elimination Programs. Emerg Infect Dis 1998; 4(1).
87 Rota PA, Bellini WJ. Update on the Global Distribution of Genotypes of Wild Type Measles Viruses. J Infect Dis 2003; 187(Suppl 1) S270-S276.
88 Gans HA, Arvin AM, Galinus J et al. Deficiency of the Humoral Immune Response to Measles Vaccine in Infants Immunized at Age 6 Months. AMA1998; 280(6): 527-532.
89 Papania M, Baughman AL et al. Increased susceptibility to measles in infants in the United States. Pediatrics 1999; 104(5).
90 Helfand RF, Kim DK et al. Nonclassic measles infections in an immune population exposed to measles during a college bus trip. J Med Virol 1998; 58(4): 337-341.
91 Damien B, Huiss S et al. Estimated susceptibility to asymptomatic secondary immune response against measles in late convalescent and vaccinated persons. J Med Virol 1998; 56(1): 85-90.
92 Mossong J, Nokes DJ et al. Modeling the impact of subclinical measles transmission in vaccinated populations with waning immunity. Am J Epidemiol 1999; 1:150(11): 1238-1249.
93 Strebel PM, Henao-Restrepo AM et al. Global Measles Elimination Efforts: The Significance of Measles Elimination in the United States. J Infect Dis 2004; 189 (Suppl 1): S251-257.
94 Katz S, Hinman AR. Summary and Conclusions: Measles Elimination Meeting, 16-17 March 2000. J Infect Dis 2004; 189 (Suppl 1): S43-47.
95 CDC. Measles History. Feb. 5, 2018.
96 World Health Organization. Measles: Key Facts. May 9, 2019.
97 Sonoda S, Kitahara M, Nakayama T. Detection of measles virus genome in bone-marrow aspirates from adults. J Gen Virol 2002; 83: 2485-2488.
98 CDC. Measles – United States, 2004. MMWR Dec. 9, 2005; 54(48): 1229-1231.
99 CDC. Update – Measles – United States, January-July 2008. MMWR Aug. 22, 2008; 57(33): 893-896.
100 CDC. Measles Cases and Outbreaks. May 13, 2019.
101 Fiebelkorn AP, Redd SB et al. A Comparison of Post-elimination Measles Epidemiology in the United States, 2009-2014 versus 2001-2008. J Pediatr Infect Dis Soc 2017; 6(1): 40-48.
102 Fisher BL. Measles in Disneyland: Third MMR Shot and Vaccine Exemption Ban? NVIC Newsletter Jan 28, 2015.
103 CDC. Measles – United States, January 4-April 2, 2015. MMWR April 17, 2015. 64(14): 373-376.
104 Fisher BL. Referenced Testimony on SB277. California State Assembly Committee on Health June 9, 2015.
105 Roy F, Mendoza L et al. Rapid identification of Measles Virus Vaccine Genotype by Real-Time PCR. J Clin Microbiol 2017; 55(3): 730-743.
106 Smith PJ, Chu SY, Barker LE. Children Who Have Received No Vaccines: Who Are They and Where Do They Live? Pediatrics 2004; 114(1): 187-195.
107 Salmon DA, Omer SB, Moulton LH et al. Exemptions to School Immunization Requirements: The Role of School-Level Requirements, Policies and Procedures. Am J Public Health 2005; 95(3): 436-440.
108 Salmon DA, Teret SP, MacIntyre CR et al. Compulsory vaccination and conscientious or philosophical exemptions: past, present and future. Lancet 2006; 367: 436-432.
109 Salmon DA, Omer SB. Individual freedoms versus collective responsibility: immunization decision-making in the face of occasionally competing values. Emerging Themes in Epidemiology 2006; 3:13.
110 Stadlin S, Bednarczyk RA, Omer SB. Medical Exemptions to School Immunization Requirements in the United States – Association of State Policies with Medical Exemption Rates (2004-2011). J Infect Dis Aug. 29, 2012 (published online).
111 Siddiqui M, Salmon D, Omer SB.Epidemiology of vaccine hesitancy in the United States. Hum Vaccin Immunother 2013; 9(1): 2643-2648.
112 Shaw J, Boldtsetseg T, McNutt LA, Halsey N. United States private schools have higher rates of exemptions to school immunization requirements than public schools. Journal of Pediatrics 2014; 165(1): 129-133.
113 Salmon DA, Dudley MZ, Glanz JM, Omer SB. Vaccine hesitancy: Causes, consequences and a call to action. Vaccine 2015; 33(Suppl 4): D66-D7.
114 World Health Organization (WHO). Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019. Jan. 16, 2019.
115 European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Monthly measles and rubella monitoring report – April 2019 (Mar. 1, 2018-Feb. 28, 2019). Stockholm: ECDC 2019.
116 World Health Organization. New measles surveillance data for 2019. Apr. 15, 2019.
117 NPR. U.S. Measles Outbreaks Are Driven By A Global Surge in the Virus. Apr. 30, 2019.
118 CDC. Measles Cases and Outbreaks. May 13, 2019.
119 Weisman N. Washington Hopes Locking Unvaccinated Kids Out of School Will Prevent Next Measles Outbreak. Popular Science Jan. 29, 2019.
120 Tampone K. Rockland County’s Ban on Unvaccinated Minors from Public Carries Fine, Jail. Post Standard Mar. 27, 2019.
121 Dunne A. Some Lawmakers Support Vaccine Bill Amid Rockland’s Ongoing Measles Outbreak. WAMC Radio (NPR-NY) Mar. 28, 2019.
122 Fisher BL. New York Judge Halts Action by Rockland County Exec Banning Unvaccinated Kids From Public Spaces. The Vaccine Reaction Apr. 10, 2019.
123 Ricks D. DeBlasio declares measles health emergency for parts of New York City.Apr. 9, 2019.
124 New York City Health Department. Measles: Recent Infections in Brooklyn and Queens. May 20, 2019.
125 Gittleson B. Church of Scientology ship with measles case on board still quarantined in Curacao as blood samples tested; measles patient now healthy. ABC May 6, 2019.
126 Adalja AA. Today’s skepticism of vaccines could be as big of a health threat as HIV. USA Today Feb. 1, 2019.
127 Bruni F. The Real Horror of the Anti-Vaxxers. New York Times Mar. 9, 2019.
128 Potter A. Why we are all complicit in the rise of the anti-vaxxers. The National Post Mar. 21. 2019.
129 Associated Press. Over 1,000 People Impacted by Measles Quarantines at Los Angeles Universities. Apr. 26, 2019.
130 “Reefer Madness” formerly “Tell the Children.” (1936).
131 The Greatest Zombie Movies of All Time. Including “Night of the Living Dead (1968); The Return of the Living Dead (1985); Dawn of the Dead (2004); World War Z (2013). Ranker.
132 Dhar M. Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse: Just Do the Math. Live Science July 30, 2013.
133 CNN. Pentagon Documents Lay Out Battle Against Zombies. CNN May 16, 2014.
134 CDC. Zombie Preparedness. Oct. 11, 2018.
135 National Vaccine Information Center. Cry for Vaccine Freedom Wall.
136 Lubrano A. Anti-vaccine parents are often white, college-educated, ‘Whole Foods moms.’ Philadelphia Inquirer Apr. 10, 2019.
137 Bahler K. Rich People Are Leading the Anti-Vaccine Movement – and Experts Have a Theory Why. Money Magazine Apr. 15, 2019.
138 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Elimination of non-medical vaccine exemptions ranked top priority at Annual Leadership Forum. AAP Press Release Mar. 16, 2019.
139 Boyer P. Pediatrician Told Me ‘shut your mouth’ on Vaccination Question. Arizona Capitol Times Mar. 4, 2019.
140 American Medical Association. AMA urges tech giants to combat vaccine misinformation. AMA Press Release Mar. 13, 2019.
141 Doubek J. 18-Year Old Testifies About Getting Vaccinated Despite Mother’s Anti-Vaccine Beliefs. NPR Mar. 6, 2019.
142 Kayyem J. Anti-vaxxers are dangerous. Make them face isolation, fines, arrests. Washington Post Apr. 30, 2019.
143 CBS News. Measles outbreak fueled by anti-vaccination movement, infectious disease expert says. Jan. 30, 2019.
144 Cornwall G, Chan D. Medical Exemptions From Vaccines Endanger Us All. San Francisco Chronicle Feb. 1, 2019.
145 Simmons T. Faith is no excuse for skipping vaccines, says med school professor. Religion News Feb. 28, 2019.
146 Offit P. Facebook, Twitter Are Blocking Dangerous Antivaccine Posts. It’s About Time. Philadelphia Inquirer Mar. 4, 2018.
147 Miles T. Vaccine doubts spread like disease, must be taken offline: vaccine chief. Reuters May 21, 2019.
148 Haralambieva IH, Ovsyannikova IG et al. The genetic basis for interindividual immune response variation to measles vaccine: new understanding and new vaccine approaches. Expert Rev Vaccines 2013; 12(1): 57-70.
151 Haralambieva IH, Kennedy RB et al. Variability in Humoral Immunity to Measles Vaccine: New Developments. Trends Mol Med 2015; 21(12): 789-801.
153 Voight EA, Ovsyannikova IG et al. Genetically defined race, but not sex, is associated with higher humoral and cellular immune responses to measles vaccination. Vaccine 2016; 34(41): 4913-4919.
154 Kulkarni RD, Ajantha GS et al. Global eradication of measles: Are we poised? Indian J Med Microbiol 2017; 35(1): 10-16.
156 Griffin D. Measles Vaccine. Viral Immunol 2018; 31(2).
158 Gibney KB, Attwood LO et al. Emergence of attenuated measles illness among IgG positive/IgM negative measles cases, Victoria, Australia 2008-2017. Clin Infect Dis May 6, 2019.
159 Bitzegeio J, Majowicz S et al. Estimating age-specific vaccine effectiveness using data from a large measles outbreak in Berlin, Germany, 2014-2015: evidence for waning immunity. Eurosurveillance 2019; 24(17).
160 Levy DL. The future of measles in highly immunized populations. A modeling approach. Am J Epidemiol 1984; 120(1): 39-48.
162 Fry R. Millennials approach Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation in the electorate. Pew Research Center Apr. 3, 2018.
163 U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials Outnumber Baby Boomers and Are Far More Diverse, Census Bureau Reports. June 25, 2015.
164 Strebel PM, Cochi SL et al. A World Without Measles. J Infect Dis 2011; 204 (Suppl 1): S1-S3.
165 Fefferman NH, Naumova EW. Dangers of vaccine refusal near the herd immunity threshold: A modelling study. Lancet Infect Dis 2015; 15(8): 922-926.
166 Scepanovic P, Alanio C et al. Human genetic variants and age are the strongest prediction of humoral immune responses to common pathogens and vaccines. Genome Med 2018; 10(59).
167 Woudenberg T, Woonink F et al. The tip of the iceberg: incompleteness of measles reporting during a large outbreak in The Netherlands in 2013-2014. Epidemiol Infect Oct. 9, 2018.
168 Fisher BL. The Emerging Risks of Live Virus and Virus Vectored Vaccines: Vaccine Strain Viral Infection, Shedding and Transmission. NVIC Newsletter November 2014.
169 Fisher BL. Measles in Disneyland: Vaccine Exemption Ban and Third MMR Shot? NVIC Newsletter Jan 28, 2015.
170 Fisher BL. Pertussis Microbe Outsmarts the Vaccines As Experts Argue About Why. NVIC Newsletter Mar. 27, 2016.
171 Fisher BL. The Pertussis Vaccine Blame Game. NVIC Newsletter Sept. 12, 2018.
By Theresa Wrangham
The February 2019 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) saw new committee members introduced and changes to public comment enacted.
New Code of Conduct for ACIP Public Comment Sessions
ACIP changed their public comment rules for public meetings,1 due to the recent increase in individuals with concerns about vaccine safety and vaccine policies traveling to ACIP meetings to make a public comment. These changes include an increase to 75 minutes for public comment sessions noted on the agenda, and instituting a blind lottery when there are more individuals signed up to give comment than there is time. Written public comments will also now be published on the Regulations.gov website.
Influenza Vaccine Only 44 Percent Effective
CDC reported to ACIP that influenza infection activity during the U.S. 2018-2019 influenza season has been average with the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus continuing to cause most lab confirmed cases. Across many U.S. states, currently there is a very high rate of influenza-like-illness (ILI). However, typically about 80 percent of ILI during the flu season is due to respiratory infections caused by other types of viruses and bacteria.
CDC interim estimates on the overall effectiveness of this season's influenza vaccine is approximately 44 percent for all age groups.2 This means that, for the estimated 20 percent 3 of Americans likely to become infected by type A or B influenza, the vaccine is only 44 percent effective.
The CDC reported that the 2018-2019 influenza vaccine appears to have a higher protective rate of 61 percent for children aged 6 months to 17 years of age. The CDC also noted that H3N2 strains of influenza were becoming more active in the Southeast portions of the U.S. This H3N2 activity delayed strain identification of next season's influenza vaccine and may impact future influenza vaccine supply.4
New Data for Afluria for Babies and Toddlers
Seqirus, the maker of Afluria Quadrivalent (QIV) influenza vaccine, presented Phase 3 trial data on Afluria for children six months to 59 months old. The data was generated using a non-inferiority model that compared Fluzone vaccine with Afluria vaccine. The Seqirus data provided to ACIP demonstrated that Afluria had similar safety and tolerability to the Fluzone comparator.5 Afluria QIV was given FDA approval in 2018 for use in this population based on this Phase 3 trial data.
New Study Claims Flu Shot Doesn't Cause Miscarriage
In an attempt to reassure pregnant women that it is safe for a flu shot to be given during every pregnancy in any trimester, a new study was presented to ACIP that found influenza vaccine did not cause miscarriages in the women evaluated in the study. This new study contradicts previous studies funded by the CDC that evaluated miscarriages among pregnant women given influenza vaccinations during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 flu seasons, which found an increased risk of miscarriage within 28 days of vaccine administration and a significant association with miscarriage in women who had received a flu shot in the previous flu season.
The study conducted by Marshfield Clinic Research Institute examined data from the CDC's Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) for three flu seasons (2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15) with the objective of determining whether there was an increased risk of miscarriage in the 28 day window noted in the previous studies and included whether the women had received a flu shot the previous season. Miscarriages were adjudicated by an obstetrician co-investigator blinded to the vaccination status of the pregnant woman.
This study differed from the previous studies in that it was three times larger than previous studies and looked at different flu seasons. These new findings are likely to result in increased pressure being placed on pregnant women by doctors to receive a flu shot during any trimester of every pregnancy, despite data from the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) showing that vaccine injuries from influenza vaccines are now the leading compensated claim.6
Additionally, a 2018 Cochrane review of influenza vaccination in healthy adults found that the flu vaccine may have only a modest impact on reducing the number of cases of influenza and influenza-like illness. The data was insufficient to determine whether vaccination had any impact on lost work days or reducing serious complications of influenza during the flu season, and study authors went on to state7
We were uncertain of the protection provided to pregnant women against ILI and influenza by the inactivated influenza vaccine, or this was at least very limited.
Learn more about influenza and influenza vaccine at NVIC's influenza webpages.
CDC Investigating Possible Safety Signal for Shingrix Vaccine
After months of high demand and short supply for Shingrix (RZV) vaccine, the CDC's Dr. Tom Shimabukuro of the Immunization Safety Office (ISO) reported potential safety concerns about the shingles vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and licensed by the FDA in October 2017.
Reaction reports that Shingrix is causing Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) have been filed in both the federal vaccine adverse event vaccine system (VAERS) database and the CDC's Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) database. GBS involves inflammation of the peripheral nerves that can cause varying degrees of temporary or chronic paralysis of different parts of the body, including full body paralysis. According the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) GBS is thought to occur at a rate of one in one million individuals.8
So far, two cases out of the four reported GBS cases following Shingrix vaccination in the VSD have been confirmed to be plausibly related to the vaccine, based on the established risk window of 0 to 42 days post vaccination.9 There have been 35 reports of GBS developing after Shingrix vaccinations filed with VAERS, 19 of which met established criteria under the Brighton Collaboration definition for GBS. There were an additional 6 VAERS reports of GBS following Shingrix vaccinations that were diagnosed by physicians.10
Using Proportional Reporting Ratio (PRR) analysis, the CDC stated that these GBS reports when compared against Pneumovax 23, Zostvax and Influenza vaccines indicates that the rate of GBS is not disproportional. Based on the data presented, CDC estimates that GBS is occurring at a rate of 2.8 cases per million doses of Shingrix vaccine.11
Monitoring of Potential Shingrix Safety Signal to Continue
The FDA is currently exploring options for analyzing Medicare and Medicaid records for a potential safety signal with the Shingrix vaccine and the CDC is conducting a clinical review of the 28 GBS cases diagnosed after Shingrix vaccination by a physician or those cases meeting pre-set criteria.
The CDC reported that, so far, there is no other safety signal in play for Shingrix based on their analysis but monitoring will continue. Representatives from GSK also stated that their post-licensure data has not detected a safety signal, but that monitoring will continue.
No policy change for use of Shingrix was made and additional data is likely to be reported to ACIP at their upcoming June meeting.
Shringrix Preference and Pending Zostavax Lawsuits
Shingrix was given preference over Zostavax by ACIP in October of 2017.12 This latest shingles vaccine safety concern comes in the midst of hundreds of injury and failure lawsuits filed against Merck, the maker of Zostavax, a live virus shingles vaccine and the first one licensed in the U.S. in 2006 that ACIP recommended for adults over age 60. In 2011, the FDA expanded the Zostavax license for use by adults over age 50.13
Individuals injured by Shingrix or Zostavax are exempt from using the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) and can sue vaccine manufacturers directly because these vaccines are not routinely recommended by ACIP for children or pregnant women.
ACIP May Reconsider PCV13 Recommendation for Seniors
As part of its routine evaluation of recommendations, ACIP continued to consider data presented by its workgroup on the value of recommending that PCV13 pneumococcal vaccine be given to healthy 65+ seniors. There is a long standing recommendation for all seniors to get PPSV23 and PCV13. However, data presented on PCV13 demonstrated that to date it is not effective against pneumococcal serotype 3 (ST3),14 which represents the majority of the disease in seniors. There was discussion about whether continuing the recommendation for PCV13 has public health value for those over 65 years old.
A representative from Pfizer, the manufacturer of PCV13, argued that the CDC workgroup data was too conservative and stated that PCV13 had a direct effect on ST3. ACIP is expected to vote on this issue at the June meeting. Removal of the PCV13 recommendation would simplify standard of care administration of pneumococcal vaccine for seniors by confining it to PPSV23 vaccine.
ACIP members expressed concern that discontinuing the current PCV13 recommendation for seniors would dismantle the investment already made and that a reinvestment would be required in the near future due to new pneumococcal vaccines currently in phase II trials, (PCV15 and PCV20), which are designed to provide broader protection from the disease for adults.
Vaxelis Combination Vaccine
The newly FDA approved pediatric hexavalent Vaxelis vaccine is a joint venture between Sanofi and Merck and contains antigens for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). ACIP is currently considering whether Vaxelis should be preferentially recommended for use in the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations and if it should be included as an option in the Vaccines for Children program for infants at two, four and six months of age.
Most of the data presented to ACIP on the 5 in 1 combination shot was based on noninferiority models. There were two immunogenicity endpoint failures and high fevers noted for Vaxelis. However, this did not appear to concern the ACIP workgroup as the majority of endpoints were met and there were no medically related events from fever reported. Serious adverse event data noted two cases of SIDS, one case of asphyxia, one case of hydrocephalus, and one case of Group A strep, which were all judged by researchers to not be related to the vaccine.
The data presented also noted that there is no immunogenicity data for Vaxelis vaccine following the first dose given at two months. If the immune response to Hib antigen between the first and second dose of Vaxelis is low, that may put AI/AN infants at an increased risk for HIB meningitis, if ACIP were to give Vaxelis a preferred recommendation for infants. As a result, ACIP's work group has requested immunogenicity data about Vaxelis induced immunogenicity after the first dose.
A Merck representative argued that Vaxelis would decrease the number of injections received by children, which would increase parental compliance. Currently Vaxelis is approved by the FDA for use in infants two, four and six months old. However, production is limited and Merck is ramping up Vaxelis production to make the 5 in 1 combination vaccine widely available in the U.S. in 2020.15
ACIP may vote on this issue at its June meeting.
ACIP Recommends Booster Dose of Anthrax Vaccine for First Responders
During the February meeting, ACIP voted that individuals who are not at a current high risk for anthrax exposure, but who may be at risk in the future, such as health care workers and other first responders to bioterrorism attack, may want to receive a dose of anthrax vaccine every three years. This is a Category B recommendation, meaning that it is optional for individuals who fall into this type of risk group.
The older stockpiled anthrax vaccine would be used until the supply runs out and then the new anthrax vaccine (AV7909) would be used. The U.S. is currently the only country making a switch to AV7909 as part of its stockpile in the event of a bioterrorism attack.
Hepatitis A Vaccine Likely to be Routinely Recommended for Individuals with HIV
Data was also presented by the ACIP’s workgroup for consideration of HIV positive individuals as a risk group to routinely receive the hepatitis A vaccine. This policy consideration is due to studies that suggest that hepatitis A infection in HIV positive individuals increases HIV replication,16 making it harder to treat HIV.
This potential change, which would impact approximately 400,000 Americans who have been diagnosed HIV positive, will be voted on at a future ACIP meeting.
Conflicts of Interest Declarations
Newly appointed ACIP member Dr. Stefan Gravenstein of Brown University declared that he had a conflict of interest due to his association with vaccine makers Sanofi Pasteur, Seqirus and Merck. Last year, Dr. Gravenstein also declared conflicts of interest with vaccine makers Pfizer, Novartis, Janssen and GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Gravenstein has worked with the influenza, RSV, e coli, pneumococcal and shingles vaccines.17
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1 CDC. ACIP Public Comment. Feb. 25, 2019.
2 CDC. ACIP Influenza Presentation – Summary. Feb. 25, 2019.
3 WebMD. What Are Your Odds of Getting the Flu? 2017.
4 L. Schnirring. WHO reveals delayed pick for H3N2 flu vaccine strain. CIDRAP News. Mar. 21, 2019.
5 CDC. ACIP Meeting Presentation - Seqirus Afluria QIV Phase III Data. Feb. 25, 2019.
6 HRSA. Data & Statistics - National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Mar. 1, 2019.
7 Demicheli V, Jefferson T et al. Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Feb. 1, 2018
8 NIH. Guillian-Barré Syndrome Fact Sheet. Jul. 6, 2018.
9 CDC. ACIP Presentation - CDC ISO Update on post-licensure safety monitoring of recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV, Shingrix). Feb. 28, 2019.
10 CDC. February 2019 ACIP Meeting - Zoster & Hepatitis vaccines. Mar. 20, 2019.
13 I. Jackson. Shingles Lawsuit Filed Over Failure of Zostavax Vaccine. AboutLawsuits.com. Feb. 28, 2018.
14 CDC. ACIP Presentation - PCV13 Direct and Indirect Effects on Serotype 3 Disease. Feb. 25, 2019.
15 E. Sgonowsky. Sanofi, Merck win FDA nod for 6-in-1 pediatric vaccine Vaxelis. FiercePharma. Jan. 2, 2019.
16 CDC. ACIP Meeting Presentation – Hepatitis Vaccines. Feb. 28, 2019.
17 CDC. University Hospitals Presentation - Fluzone HD vs SDs cluster randomized trial in US NHs. S. Gravenstein, M.D. Feb. 18, 2017.
By Barbara Loe Fisher
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On a cold winter morning in November 2007, I watched hundreds of parents line up with their children in front of a Maryland county courthouse. The children had been kicked out of school by state officials and were truant. The mothers and fathers were holding letters threatening them with imprisonment or fines of $50 a day for failing to show proof their children had gotten a chickenpox or hepatitis B shot. 1
Confused, angry and frightened, but mostly resigned, they were working Moms and Dads trudging toward the courthouse on a Saturday morning to face a judge ordering them to vaccinate their children or go to jail.
Patrolling the scene was an armed SWAT team of policemen with dogs.
The U.S. media turned out that day, but they and other members of the public were kept behind barricades and denied access into the building. I was there with my son, who brought his camera. We were there to witness what was going on with parents whose children had been injured by vaccines.
There was no transparency, no public oversight on what was happening to the parents and children inside the building.
I spoke with several mothers leaving the building with their children and learned the sad truth. They were not being asked questions about their child’s medical history or whether the children had experienced health problems after previous vaccinations. No information was given about vaccine side effects or how to monitor their children for signs of vaccine reactions. 2 They were not made aware of exemptions to vaccination.
Clearly, preventing vaccine reactions was not a priority for those in charge that day.
The children were being injected with not just the two new vaccines added to the state’s school requirement list - hepatitis B and chickenpox - but also with other required vaccines if the public school system could find no record. One mother told me her children were up-to-date on their shots but the school system lost the records. She agreed to have her children receive the required vaccines all over again on the spot to avoid being fined or, worse, being sent to jail.
This mother and I were talking hundreds of yards from the front of the Courthouse door. We were standing about 12 inches inside a row of large cement stones that had been put there as a barrier to prevent terrorist attacks.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw an armed guard with a dog emerge from the Courthouse. He was walking straight toward us.
I got this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was the surge of shock and dread that any citizen of any country in any century has felt when an armed guard with a dog starts advancing.
As if we were criminals or terrorists, he yelled and gestured to us to move behind the stones. I looked at the mother and my son, who was filming our conversation, and we moved without a word.
We were being shown the power of the State wielded by that guard armed with a dog and a gun, just as parents inside the courthouse were being shown the power of the State wielded by doctors with syringes.
U.S. Constitution Protects Freedom To Dissent
When a government policy is unjust and people resist, the last resort is always a show of force. Use of fear, intimidation, discrimination and punishment of dissenting minorities is the hallmark of authoritarian governments and so is censorship and propaganda.
None of these tactics have a place in America, where our Constitution protects civil liberties, including freedom of thought, speech, conscience, religious belief and the right to dissent and petition the government. 3 4 5
Twelve years after I watched a state health department flex its muscle at a county courthouse, this year the whole world is watching the multi-billion dollar vaccine industrial complex flex its muscle in America. 6 7 8 Declaring a “take no prisoners” war on parents who decline to give their children every dose of every government recommended vaccine, the vaccine industry has been emboldened by the lucrative public-private business partnerships that have been forged over the past four decades with governments and the World Health Organization. 9 10
Vaccine Industry Wants Forced Use of All Vaccines by All People
The win that industry is looking for is a complete shut down of the public conversation about health and vaccination followed by a mandate by every government to force every child and adult to use every vaccine that drug companies develop and sell.
For children born in America in 1983, the federal government recommended 23 doses of seven vaccines given between two months and six years old. 11 Today, the child vaccination schedule is 69 doses of 16 vaccines given between the day of birth and age 18, with 50 doses administered before age six, at a current price tag of more than $3,000 per child. 12 13
Child Vaccine Schedule Could Double or Triple in Future
For children born in America in the years to come, that vaccine list and cost could double or triple. The World Health Organization is encouraging drug companies to fast track more than a dozen new “priority” vaccines to market for children, pregnant women and adults - and you can be sure industry will lobby governments to mandate all of them - respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), streptococcus A & B, HIV, herpes simplex virus, gonorrhea, e-coli, shigella, salmonella, tuberculosis, malaria and more. 14
Where is the scientific evidence to support the assumption that forcing everyone to use more and more vaccines to atypically manipulate our immune systems and repeatedly provoke inflammatory responses in our bodies throughout life will produce better health for all? 15 16 17 18 19 20
The Real Public Health Emergency Is Not About Measles
The signs are everywhere that people are trying to throw off the chains binding them to failed medical and public health policies that cost Americans more than three trillion dollars a year in health care costs. 21 Americans are beginning to understand that trusting blindly and saluting doctors smartly for the past 40 years has not prevented 1 child in 6 from becoming learning disabled, 22 23 or 1 in 9 from suffering with asthma, 24 or 1 in 10 from struggling with mental and behavior disorders 25 or 1 in 40 from developing autism. 26
America now has the worst infant mortality rates, 27 28 and worst maternal mortality rates, 29 30 and worst life expectancy 31 32 of all developed nations. Highly vaccinated and medicated Americans are very sick, with millions of children and adults suffering with immune and brain dysfunction marked by chronic inflammation in their brains and bodies 33 34 that confines too many of them to special education classrooms and frequent trips to doctors’ offices to try to deal with a lifetime of chronic illness and disability. 35 36
No public health official, professor or legislator in America can explain why millions and millions of children and more than 1 in 2 adults are chronically ill or disabled. 37
This is the real public health emergency that mothers and fathers want to talk about, but Congress and medical trade groups do not want to talk about. This is the elephant in the room at every public hearing on bills proposing to take away or expand vaccine informed consent rights being held in state legislatures today.
No Exception Vaccine Laws Guarantee Denial of Vaccine Casualties
The pharmaceutical industry, which was handed a partial liability shield from vaccine injury lawsuits by the U.S. Congress in 1986 38 that was turned into a total liability shield by the Supreme Court in 2011,39 40 41 is fighting to keep an economic stranglehold on a crumbling U.S. health care system. 42 43 44 45 With the government having paid vaccine victims more than $4 billion dollars in federal vaccine injury compensation since 1988 under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, 46 47 pharmaceutical corporations do not want to give up the no-risk, stable income stream they get from selling mandated vaccines. 48
“No exception” vaccine laws guarantee that the good vaccine science will never be done so vaccine casualties can continue to be swept under the rug by denying they exist, 49 50 51 52 53 and nobody has to care about the crippled and dead bodies lying on the ground except the mothers and fathers grieving endlessly for what could have been. 54
Today, everybody knows somebody who was healthy, got vaccinated and was never healthy again. 55 56 This inconvenient truth is why the vaccine industry must find a way to shut down all public conversation about vaccination and eliminate all vaccine exemptions - and do it now.
Vaccine Risks Not Being Shared Equally By All
In January 2019, the World Health Organization announced that “vaccine hesitant” people, especially parents, are one of the top 10 threats to global health. 57 This ominous warning was quickly followed by the declaration of a state of emergency in Washington after a handful of measles cases were confirmed in primarily unvaccinated children. 58 Immediately, the media shifted into overdrive just like in January 2015 when measles cases were reported in Disneyland and the California legislature quickly removed the personal belief vaccine exemption for school children, 59 60 61 despite the biggest public protests the state Capitol had seen since the Viet Nam War.
In the first two months of 2019, we have watched thousands of brave parents and health care professionals travel to state Capitols and line up with their children at public hearings in Washington, 62 63 Arizona, 64 Nevada, 65 Oregon 66 and on Capitol Hill. 67 They are taking time off their jobs and spending their own money to make the journey to beg lawmakers to protect the legal right for children to get a school education and for parents to exercise voluntary informed consent to vaccine risk taking for their minor children. 68
With almost no vaccine contraindications today that qualify for a medical exemption under narrow CDC guidelines, 69 70 vaccine risks are not being shared equally by all. One-size-fits-all vaccine laws place an unequal risk burden on, and discriminate against, a vulnerable minority of children, who have genetic, biological and environmental susceptibility to suffering vaccine reactions. 71 72 73 74
Why are the lives of vaccine vulnerable children, who public health officials do not want to acknowledge, valued less than the lives of immune compromised children they will acknowledge?
Calls for Forced Vaccination and Censorship
Since 2015, no state legislature has removed a vaccine exemption. 75 76 This year, while 11 states are proposing to restrict or eliminate vaccine exemptions, NVIC is supporting 61 bills that expand exemptions or protect vaccine informed consent rights (as of Mar.1, 2019), the largest number of bills we have ever supported in a legislative session. 77
This pushback against forced vaccination is being met with fury by doctors and lawyers inside and outside of government and by multi-media corporations demanding that parental rights and vaccine exemptions be stripped from state laws and that all information criticizing government vaccine policy be removed from the web. 78 79 80
In the past few weeks, high ranking federal health officials have made false statements in Congress in an effort to mislead lawmakers into believing childhood vaccines like MMR do not carry serious risks. 81
The FDA Commissioner has threatened state legislators with federal government intervention if they do not eliminate vaccine exemptions. 82 83 84
The Chair of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee has pressured Facebook to block conversations about vaccination and Amazon to censor books and videos containing information about vaccine risks and failures. 85 86 87
Amazon immediately bowed to that government pressure and removed the movie Vaxxed from Amazon Prime and similar videos critical of vaccine safety. 88 However, CNN is urging Amazon to go further and burn all the books, too. 89 90
A Washington DC lawmaker reacted to the hype by asking, “What if you take parents out of the equation?” and introduced a bill to allow minor children of any age to get vaccines in the city without a parent’s knowledge or consent after a doctor says the child is “mature” enough to make the decision. 91
What is the justification for burning the books and clearing the way for doctors to persuade very young children to get vaccinated without their parents’ knowledge or consent?
The media would have you believe that calls for censorship and the elimination of state vaccine exemptions and parental rights is based on 206 reported cases of measles identified in 11 states between January and March in our population of 328 million people. According to the CDC, “three or more cases” of measles is considered to be an “outbreak.” 92
All the blame for measles outbreaks is being put on parents of the less than two percent of unvaccinated children attending U.S. schools, where nearly 95 percent of children nationwide have received two doses of measles containing MMR vaccine. 93
Aside from the illogical premise that children only catch measles or other infections in school buildings, is the call for censorship and “no exceptions” vaccine laws only about a few hundred cases of measles?
I don’t think so.
The Human Right to Autonomy Limits the Power of the State
The demonization of parents and enlightened doctors, who criticize vaccine science and government policy, is the tip of the spear in a larger culture war going on in this and other countries where economically stable, well educated populations are beginning to understand they are being exploited by corporations that have made business deals with governments. 94 95 96 97 98
The culture wars in the 21st century are about whether the first human right, individual autonomy, 99 will survive or an authoritarian State will own our children and have the power to eliminate civil liberties and sacrifice the lives of certain people for what those in control of the State consider the greater good of society. 100
The human right to autonomy protects individuals and vulnerable minorities from being discriminated against and exploited by the State. Who has the moral right, or should have the legal authority, to demand that mothers and fathers violate their conscience and risk their children’s lives or face punishment for refusing to do it?
What kind of government policy demands that kind of involuntary sacrifice?
And what kind of government demands that information about the risks and failures of a liability free pharmaceutical product be censored and withheld from the people being forced to use it?
There is no more important freedom than the freedom to decide when and for what reason you are willing to risk your life or your child’s life. We give up the human right to autonomy at our peril, no matter where or in what century we live.
The outcome of the Vaccine Culture War will determine what it means to be free. 101 Because if the State can tag, track down and force individuals against their will to be injected with biologicals of known and unknown toxicity today, then there will be no limit on which individual freedoms the State can take away in the name of the greater good tomorrow.
Martin Niemoller prophetically warned that incremental oppression by those in control of an authoritarian State is facilitated by denial, apathy and fear. He said, "In Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up." 102
Americans, this is our moment to help determine the outcome of a very real culture war that threatens to destroy long held values and beliefs that are embodied in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution to protect us from tyranny. The Bill of Rights affirms that we have God given natural rights, known today as civil liberties or human rights, which belong to each one of us and should never be taken away for any reason.
You Will Make the Choice
You and you alone will make the choice to live free or die as a slave. Do not let anyone take away your freedom to think and speak and obey the certain judgment of your conscience.
Use the NVIC Advocacy Portal to contact your state and federal legislators. Defend freedom and educate your family, friends and leaders in your community. Go to NVIC.org and sign up for our newsletter, so that no matter what happens in the weeks and months to come, you will not lose contact with us.
Be the one who never has to regret that you did not do today what you could have done to change tomorrow.
It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.
And our mission continues: No forced vaccination. Not in America.
Note: This commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers. The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.
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38 National Vaccine Information Center. NVIC Position Statement on National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. May 2018.
39 Supreme Court of the United States. Bruesewitz v. Wyeth No. 09-152. Justice Sotomayor with whom Justice Ginsberg joins, dissenting Feb. 22, 2011.
40 National Vaccine Information Center. National Vaccine Information Center Cites “Betrayal” of Consumers by U.S. Supreme Court Giving Total Liability Shield to Big Pharma. Business Wire Feb. 23, 2011.
41 Fisher BL, Williams K, Wrangham TK. NVIC response to an inquiry from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the implementation of the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) after passage of the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. National Vaccine Information Center July 11, 2014.