Measles outbreak: it loves New York

Between 1963 and 1967, 1 version of the vaccine contained inactivated measles virus, rather than the live virus.

Vaccine Safety HandbookA couple weeks ago, I had posted on Facebook a news story about the measles. It noted that Los Angeles County health officials “told more than 900 college students and staff members to stay home because they may have been exposed.”

Someone I was unfamiliar with responded, “What is [the infection rate] in the countries from which most of the persons who enter this country illegally?”

I don’t know, but I pointed out that the folks bringing measles into the United States were not necessarily here illegally. Quoting the Centers for Disease Control: “The disease is brought into the United States by unvaccinated people who get infected in other countries. Typically 2 out of 3 of these unvaccinated travelers are Americans.”

But since she asked, I noted that while “measles is still common in many countries,” the current CDC Travel Notices on the disease are for Israel, Ukraine, Japan, Brazil – the state of Amazonas in particular – and the Philippines.

The World Health Organization, which has noted great strides being made: “In 2017, about 85% of the world’s children received 1 dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.”

Still, “Of the estimated 20.8 million infants not vaccinated with at least one dose of measles vaccine through routine immunization in 2017, about 8.1 million were in 3 countries: India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.”

I became curious about the propaganda machine that helped spread the disease in the United States. “PEACH, formally known as Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health, has been circulating magazines and pamphlets since at least 2014 that claim vaccines are in opposition with Jewish religious law, (falsely) link vaccines to autism, and recount anonymous horror stories of children being irreparably harmed by vaccines.

“Led by Jewish mothers, the group has brought anti-vax arguments and conspiracies into a community known for its cautious interaction with the modern, secular world.” It’s an interesting story that helps explain why New York State is the epicenter of the measles outbreak in 2019.

A bit of history: “In the decade before 1963 when a vaccine became available, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. It is estimated 3 to 4 million people in the United States were infected each year. Also each year, among reported cases, an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles…

“Measles was declared eliminated (absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months) from the United States in 2000. This was thanks to a highly effective vaccination program in the United States, as well as better measles control in the Americas region.”

Also: “People who were vaccinated in the 1960s should double-check their vaccination records because there were two different types of the vaccine circulating at the time, and one was ineffective.

“The CDC warns that, between 1963 and 1967, one version of the vaccine contained inactivated measles virus, rather than live virus. This version was not effective, and those vaccinated with this version should receive a booster shot.”

Trying to understand the anti-vaccination movement

Those of us who know the importance of immunization need to continue to talk about it with facts and compassion.

measles.CDCMeasles – MEASLES!, which were all but eradicated in the United States by 2000 – has been experiencing a comeback in 2014. This was due almost entirely to unvaccinated people, who catch it from other unvaccinated people.

Surely, we can just dismiss some of the anti-vaxx discussion as political posturing by Chris Christie and Rand Paul and especially Sean Hannity of FOX.

But what can we do to try to UNDERSTAND this choice by what someone called The Know Better Party? Continue reading “Trying to understand the anti-vaccination movement”