I can't keep my mouth shut any longer!

It's been all over the news.

"Measles Outbreak at Disney Theme Parks, 70 infected!"
"Measles Outbreak Casts Spotlight on Anti-Vaccine Movement!"
"Unvaccinated urged to avoid Disneyland as Measles Outbreak Hits 70 Cases!"

Everyone has heard about it by now, and "anti-anti-vaxxer" sentiment is running high. I mean, seriously, isn't it obvious by now that EVERYONE who can, should be vaccinated against this HORRIBLE disease? All but FIVE of the recent cases were unvaccinated individuals! Clearly, this is black and white, cut and dried, a complete no-brainer. Those who still insist on refusing vaccinations are either stubborn, selfish, stupid, wearing foil hats, or conspiracy theorists. And we wish they would all go away and live in the mountains somewhere, away from society, where they can homeschool their kids, inbreed, and kill each other off...

Not many topics can inflame the public mind like the vaccination question. Fears run high, especially when threat to life and limb appears imminent. But let's look at some facts:

Both the number of cases, and number of deaths had been decreasing for many years prior to the vaccine. The death rate - the number of deaths compared to the population - in the U.S. and the U.K. dropped by 98% from 1900 to the mid 1950's. That was before the vaccine became available in 1963. Yes, the vaccine produced a further drop in cases and deaths, but it is not the dramatic, sharp decline we are led to believe by proponents of vaccines. There is a nice article about that here. If you are not satisfied with that, try the opening few paragraphs of this one.

Measles is usually not serious in a healthy child. Symptoms last a couple of weeks and go away, just like the flu. Just as with any disease, there can possibly be complications. The worst of these is encephalitis, which can be serious, even fatal. So everybody should just get the vaccine, right? Well, sure... if it weren't for the fact that the vaccine itself can also cause encephalitis.

But what about those who are too young or fragile for the vaccine? Shouldn't we all get vaccinated so that the little babies don't get measles? Well, it's not as simple as that. It used to be that mothers had natural immunity, meaning that they had contracted measles as a child, which they passed on to their babies for up to the first 12-15 months of life while they were at their most vulnerable. A mother's vaccine-induced immunity does not provide as much protection to babies. Additionally, individuals who contract measles and recover are immune for life, while the vaccine is only effective for 25-30 years. (See this article again, item #4). So the effect of mass vaccination is to shift the incidence of the disease from children of school age to babies and adults, for whom measles is more dangerous. It doesn't end up helping the babies after all.

I could go on, but I won't. I've probably already angered enough people. So what am I hoping to accomplish by writing this? Well, I'd love to open your mind to the possibility that it just might not be as black and white as you thought. There are benefits, but there are also risks. The vaccine has helped, but not as much as we like to think. I'd love for you to realize that there is more to the anti-vaxx movement than a bunch of crazies clinging to pseudo-science.

If you can't even give me that much, at least give me credit for writing a post about measles vaccines without mentioning autism or Jenny McCarthy. Oh wait. I just did. Never mind.

For more information, check out the book "Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective?" by Neil Z. Miller, or "How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of your Doctor," by Robert Mendelsohn, M.D.


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