Asking for an outbreak of preventable diseases -

Asking for an outbreak of preventable diseases

With vaccination rates plummeting, are anxious parents putting everyone at risk?

Asking for an outbreak

Photograph By Andrew Tolson

On April 8, Pierre Lavallée took a call from Quebec’s public health office. Lavallée was into his fifth and last year as principal at Marie-Rivier high school in Drummondville, a town of about 67,000 an hour’s drive east of Montreal. He learned that a school employee had gone to the emergency room with a fever and rash the day before. Doctors quickly isolated the woman and rushed her to intensive care, where she was diagnosed with measles, a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus. According to the World Health Organization, measles was eradicated from the Americas in 2002.

Later, just after four o’clock, Lavallée received a fax from Dr. Danièle Samson, the director of infectious diseases for the region. “The staff and students at Marie-Rivier were in contact with a person very likely suffering from measles,” it began. The letter was to be forwarded to 1,475 students and staff, but most had already left for the weekend, so it was only circulated the following Monday. “I actually had measles when I was six or seven years old,” says Lavallée. “It was 40 years since I’d even heard of it popping up.”

Thus began what the Quebec government calls by far the worst measles outbreak in the Americas in 20 years. Over the next eight months, 763 cases were reported in the province, the vast majority in Mauricie and Centre-du-Quebec, a region that includes Drummondville. Roughly 11 per cent of those who were infected were hospitalized. Even a few who were inoculated as children caught the virus. “I didn’t think I could get it,” says Pascal Tarakdjian, 38, a science teacher at Marie-Rivier and the second confirmed case at the school. “I went to the hospital and told the staff that I might have measles symptoms, but they didn’t react because they didn’t know.”

Bracing themselves for another flood of cases this winter and spring, when measles infection rates tend to peak, officials are rolling out an immunization drive across Quebec, aiming to vaccinate 200,000 people. It’s necessary, they say, because falling coverage rates are to blame for the outbreak.

Since routine immunization began, infectious diseases that plagued us—measles, mumps, diphtheria, polio—have all but disappeared. For a growing number of people who haven’t seen them first-hand, anxiety about vaccines is replacing fear of the disease. Parents are increasingly delaying their kids’ shots, or cherry-picking certain vaccines and refusing others. A small, vocal minority avoids all vaccines, often out of the discredited belief that childhood immunization can cause autism. Young doctors are also more ambivalent about vaccines than their older peers. A survey of 551 U.S. doctors showed that recent medical school graduates were 15 per cent less likely to believe they were effective, suggesting the urgency around vaccination is fading away even among physicians.

Public health experts say that roughly 95 per cent of a population has to be vaccinated to provide what’s called “herd immunity,” the critical mass that stops a contagious disease in its tracks. As vaccination rates continue to fall, preventable diseases might start to reappear. “Measles is the one we’d expect to see first, because it’s so infectious,” says Dr. Kumanan Wilson, Canada Research Chair in public health policy at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of Ottawa. “Hopefully we will see this resolved before polio or worse emerge.”

Today in Canada, measles is extremely rare. In the last decade, the country typically saw less than a dozen cases per year, according to Dr. John Spika, director general of the Centre for Immunization and Respiratory Infectious Diseases at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC); most were people who were infected abroad, then returned home. It makes Quebec’s massive outbreak particularly troubling. The province first started seeing a smattering of measles cases in early 2011, but they followed a typical pattern: travellers returning from other parts of the world, like France, where a measles epidemic has been raging since 2008 due to low vaccination rates. “We saw a few cases, and then they died out,” Spika says. “It wasn’t until April that it became self-sustained.”

In all likelihood, the Drummondville school employee unknowingly contracted measles in Montreal’s Trudeau Airport en route to a vacation in Cuba; the PHAC later analyzed the genetic makeup of the virus, and confirmed it to be the same strain circulating through France. It passed, as measles does, in the air—in this case, through the corridors and classrooms of Marie-Rivier.

Tarakdjian, feeling flashes of hot and cold, went to the emergency room with extreme flu-like symptoms on April 18. He’d shown the rash on his belly to a fellow teacher, who thought it might be measles (the first case had been diagnosed 10 days earlier, but there had only been one since). The hospital sent him home after seven hours in isolation with a burning fever, even though he hadn’t seen a doctor. He returned to work the next day. “I might have spread the virus at school,” he says. Tarakdjian left work the next day and went to a clinic with emergency services where he was diagnosed and spent the night in intensive care. The following two weeks, he vomited so much he couldn’t sleep. He didn’t return to work for four months because he was so exhausted and weak. The only one who had it worse was his colleague, the first woman infected, who, according to Tarakdjian, lost some hearing in one ear.

The situation at Marie-Rivier became dire enough that on May 25, school board commissioner Christiane Desbiens sent a voice mail to the parents of some 11,000 students in the district, urging them to make sure their kids were properly vaccinated. It’s very unusual for people who’ve been immunized to come down with measles, but it does happen, particularly among those who’ve received only one dose of the vaccine. (Provinces began to recommend a two-dose immunization schedule in the 1990s.) At the school, officials found, roughly four per cent of those who’d been vaccinated were felled by measles—but among the unvaccinated, the attack rate was much higher, and 82 per cent got sick.

Public health workers wondered what made this school susceptible. “Our hypothesis was that it had lower vaccination coverage rates compared to other regions,” says Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province’s director of public health (he would not identify Marie-Rivier as the school). In fact, Drummondville seemed fairly typical. “We were surprised to find that it didn’t differ too much from other schools across Quebec.” About 85 per cent of people at the school were immunized—lower than the 95 per cent health officials aim for—but not strikingly lower than schools elsewhere in the province, where vaccination rates vary from 63 to 93 per cent.

That picture continues across Canada. Only Ontario, New Brunswick, and Manitoba require that kids receive some vaccinations before attending school (all including measles), but even in those provinces, parents can opt out on medical or religious grounds, or simply for reasons of conscience. (Australia, by comparison, recently announced plans to withold tax benefits from families that refuse to vaccinate their kids.) In Canada, it’s hard to know for sure how good our coverage is, because no national tracking method exists. A public health information system called Panorama has been in the works for almost a decade now, which could follow vaccination uptake; until it becomes fully operational, vaccinations are tracked by public health agencies, physicians’ offices, and by patients themselves. (Quebec is planning to use the data it gathers as part of its current vaccination campaign to create a more effective province-wide registry.)

For now, we can only estimate coverage across Canada. The PHAC says that about 62 per cent of Canadian two-year-olds were up to date for all recommended vaccines in the most recent year they checked, 2009. It seems the measles outbreak at Marie-Rivier could have happened in countless other places—in some ways, it was just their bad luck.

When Jeanelle Robles’s son Makai was 2½ months old, she took him for his first checkup. “I thought it was best to listen to the pediatrician and get him vaccinated,” says Robles, 29, who lives in Toronto. “Before we saw the nurse, I felt hesitant. My baby was very little.” After Makai received his shots, he came down with a fever. “I slept with my baby, and he cried the whole night,” she says. Robles and her husband decided he wouldn’t get any more vaccines. “Medical intervention is necessary in so many situations,” she says. “But we’ve been brainwashed to think the only way to heal children is by medicine, antibiotics and vaccines.” Makai is now 3, and has a 10-month-old brother, Kaden, who hasn’t received any vaccines. “My friends ask, what would happen if he caught something?” she says. “And I say, what would happen if he caught something from the vaccine?”

Vaccines do carry potential risks. In a study of Ontario toddlers, Wilson found that about one in 168 who got the MMR shot (measles, mumps and rubella) at 12 months went to hospital between four and 12 days afterwards. Most had fever and other viral symptoms, but few were sick enough to be hospitalized. After receiving the MMR vaccine, about one in a million patients will develop encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain. But about one in 1,000 patients with measles will develop encephalitis, a much higher rate. (No encephalitis cases or deaths from measles were reported in Quebec as of December.)

Former Playboy model Jenny McCarthy has blamed the MMR vaccine for causing her son’s autism. A supposed link between the two was implied in a 1998 scientific study published in The Lancet, sparking a massive scare; in 2011, its author, Andrew Wakefield, was declared a fraud. Wakefield’s paper was retracted, and he was disbarred from the practice of medicine, but the damage was done. Fear of autism remains one of the top reasons that parents refuse or defer vaccinations, according to a U.S. survey.

“People who are concerned about vaccine safety issues are looking at a collapse in children’s health,” says Edda West, coordinator of the Vaccination Risk Awareness Network (VRAN), which has about 500 members across Canada, including Robles. In a statement, she cited “the explosion of autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, ADHD, allergic and anaphylactic disorders, asthma, neuroimmune and autoimmune disorders and other chronic diseases that parallel the steep rise in numbers of vaccines injected into infants and young children since the 1980s.” West believes that health officials have yet to produce long-term studies, “free of conflicts of interest,” comparing the overall health of unvaccinated and fully vaccinated kids. Until then, her statement adds, they can “continue to deny the real cost aggressive vaccine schedules extract from the public health.”

A little over a decade ago, undervaccinated kids were more likely to come from families that had trouble accessing health care, or from strict religious communities that forbade the practice. Today’s unvaccinated children are “more likely to be white, to belong to households with higher income, [and] to have a married mother with a college education,” says a 2009 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which notes that parents of unvaccinated kids are more likely to seek alternative health care, and to use the Internet as an information source.

They also tend to live close to one another—maybe drawn together by an alternative school, church or politician, or to live near like-minded neighbours—which creates vulnerable pockets across the country. Beyond the financial cost of an outbreak, it puts others at risk, like babies too young to be immunized, those who can’t be vaccinated for health reasons, and people like Tarakdjian.

If vaccination rates dip too low, the consequences will be serious for everyone. In 2010, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published an editorial flagging a polio outbreak in Tajikistan, which was certified polio-free in 2002. That country may not seem to have much in common with Canada; but with an 87 per cent uptake of the polio vaccine, its rate is actually quite close to some Canadian regions. (The WHO recommends a minimum of 90 per cent coverage.) “This dreadful disease has no cure and causes paralysis and even death,” the editorial states, noting that Tajikistan’s outbreak should be “clanging alarm bells. We are only one asymptomatic infected traveller away from an outbreak because of low vaccination rates.”

At a doctor’s office in St. Michael’s Hospital in downtown Toronto, Paul Bradshaw bounced his 16-month-old son Sam on his knee. “Come on, show us your muscles,” Bradshaw said, as Dr. Fok-Han Leung prepared to give the toddler a flu shot. When the needle went in his arm, Sam turned his face into his father’s chest for comfort, but didn’t shed a tear. After a bandage was applied, he was running around the room again, clapping his hands together, until it was time to go. “It needs to be done,” Bradshaw says. “If he got an illness because we missed a vaccine, I would feel awful. Besides,” he says, “nobody in our house sleeps when Sam’s ill.”

In Quebec, doctors, nurses, and public health workers are crossing their fingers that most parents and young adults will feel the same way as Bradshaw. Until a powerful reminder resurfaces, it’s easy to forget the consequences of missed vaccines. “We are happy we haven’t seen anybody who died or got encephalitis,” Arruda says. “It’s not acceptable to be worrying, in the year 2012, about these preventable diseases.”

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Asking for an outbreak of preventable diseases

  1. “Former Playboy model” Jenny McCarthy? While true, she has gone on to do a lot more; the reference seems an oblique attack on her in order to discredit her beliefs.

    While I’m not a big fan of hers and I think her theory is wrong, this one reference makes (what to me seems) an otherwise well written piece in favour of vaccination look unnecessarily biased. And I’m pro-vaccination.

    • I think the authors were just trying to clarify that Ms. McCarthy has no medical credentials.

      • There There are doctors out there who stripped to pay their tuitions, so this has nothing to do with medical credentials. Posing for Playboy may have launched her rise to fame, but if that was all she did she would have faded to obscurity long ago.

        Choosing that label rather than actress, comedian, author, or activist – all equally valid and more recent – says to me the author is simply trying to use the stereotype that comes with the title to make people think she’s an airhead bimbo not worth listening to. I agree her theory is wrongheaded, but one can attack her viewpoint without trying to belittle her in the eyes of readers.

        It’s a cheap shot that in my eyes weakens the writer’s credibility. I doubt I’m the only one who reads it that way.

        • Keith, I am sure if Jenny McCarthy was Meryl Streep (talent wise), they would refer to her as an actress but they probably couldn’t recall any movies she was in.  Also, do you really think she deserves the title “activist” when she did more to hurt public health than probably anymore in American history?

          • There are plenty of activists with whom I disagree; that doesn’t mean they aren’t activists. As an example, a lot of animal rights activists don’t have a clue what they are talking about either, but we still call them “activists”.

            She’s no Meryl Streep; heck, she’s no Kaley Cuoco. But she has been famous for more things, and for other things far more recently, than being a Playboy Model. It’s like referring to Jane Fonda solely as “star of “Barbarella””.

            But all this arguing over Jenny kind of proves my point: the gratuitous reference gets readers thinking more about Jenny’s image than is really necessary and therefore distracts unnecessarily from the core content of the article.

          • Yes let’s not argue about Jenny McCarthy.  Instead let’s celebrate Bill Gates announcement that he is pouring billions of his foundation’s dollars into vaccines.  Bill is going to vaccinate the third world.  We can only be thrilled, especially with the recent development of a vaccine for HIV.  I really wonder if people like Jenny McCarthy will actually eschew a vaccine for HIV.

    • It’s what she is famous for. Most people don’t know she wrote a few books or was in a few movies and TV shows. Some people know that she dated Jim Carrey, but the vast majority know her as a Playboy model.

      • I don’t know who your “most people” are, but the people I know are very aware of her more recent career. I hear her referred to as actress, comedian, celebrity, Jim Carey’s (former) partner… all kinds of references. Playboy model doesn’t crop up that often.

    • I agree.  Jenny McCarthy is on the list of high-profile people who need to be discredited at all costs, lest the masses stop vaccinating their children.  One way to do this, is to mention the Playboy Model past, and then we are all supposed to assume that makes her dumb.

  2. This is the same article that runs all the time to try and scare people into conforming to vaccinating their children. If these vaccination products so safe then why are not the medical communities and drug manufacturers pushing for more testing to prove their theories. Also people need to read for their own the concerns with Dr. Wakefield’s work. His findings were found to be medically sound because of the method of choosing the children for his study and the small sample size. The results were not found to be incorrect.  In addition, one only has to look at the increase in vaccinated disease and decrease in timetables given to see that we are over medicating very small children whose immunne systems are not fully formed. Do you realize that now 1 in 90 children are diagnosed with some level of Autism. Is this not an epidemic that needs more attention then a drop of 5 to 10% in vaccinated children. Sick kids get better in time. My son will be afficted forever. What drug company or medical

    physician is helping me now with the disease we face now. One guess = NONE.

    • Did u know that Dr.Wakefield was hired by the lawyers of parents of autism to do a study to discredit vaccinations, and the children were preselected, and that millions of dollars has gone into trying to replicate the findings and has never shown the same data as Dr. Wakefield? Also the validity of the study suffers because of a low sample size. Did u know siblings that don’t get vaccinated still have autism?

      • No other study has been verified or published. I am not saying that vaccination cause autism. I am saying in certain children the schedule and overload of vaccinations is too much and depending on the child autism, ADHD, or others are initiated. Did you know that a drug company has a test that will show which children are more

        susceptible to reactions to vaccines and they have not been able to test it or sell it. HMM because they know what it would show.

        • Too much conspiracy theorist nonsense. Vaccinations have pretty much eradicated a wide range of diseases, many of which would cause serious permanent damage to a fairly substantial portion of the afflicted, and occasionally death. Most North Americans are not old enough to remember just how serious these diseases were. The percentage of the population who would be at risk of serious long-term effects or death from these diseases is much higher than the percentage who might contract something from the vaccines.

          I’m sorry your son has autism, but there really is no conclusive evidence that vaccinations cause autism – and even if it is a cause, it is certainly not the only cause. I’m sure you can only see your child’s affliction, but the big picture is that vaccinations save lives. Period.

          • Not only is there “no conclusive evidence that vaccines cause autism” but the evidence is conclusive that vaccines do not cause autism.  Dr. Wakefield lost his license because he falsefied his evidence.  His study results could not be verified or replicated despite NUMEROUS attempts by countless scientists because he made up his findings and drew false conclusions.  He lied about the link between vaccine and autism…it is over.

          • The independent pathologists whose reports were used in Wakefield’s reports support his conclusions about MMR virus fragments being found in the bowels of children in his study. He never said that MMR vaccine “causes autism”. And other studies HAVE confirmed his findings by the way.
            But if you still want to give your kids the MMR vaccine no one is going to stop you. Just be prepared to pay the price if your convictions are wrong. Condemning other parents for playing it safe isn’t your call.

          • @4a299a42ba9f498ba671cd93bafba9d8:disqus “Condemning other parents for playing it safe isn’t your call.”

            Sure it is. Your first mistake is in assuming parents who avoid vaccinating their children are “playing it safe” when really the opposite is true.

             Vaccinations are proven life-savers. Thanks to vaccinations, smallpox has been completely eradicated and many other serious diseases significantly curtailed. But people who have never witnessed the effects of these diseases are being spooked by questionable science into widespread avoidance of vaccines. The more parents that do so, the greater the collective risk to all of us.

            People who avoid vaccinations are putting selfish fears over potential or unproven side effects over the greater well-being of society. There will always be such people, but these days such short-sighted selfishness seems to be increasingly the norm. And as we are seeing from the global financial mess caused by similar thinkng and behaviour, in the long run, society will pay.

            The Lancet ‘discredited’ Dr.Wakefield because they didn’t want the truth getting out.  His study was found to be correct and his exact findings had been discovered by scientists BEFORE he even did his study.  It is not over.  Vaccines are not the godsend mainstream society wants to believe they are.  Vaccines did not eradicate illnesses, do proper research.  In history, the presence of these illnesses was already on it’s way out of society due to aquired immunity in the population, vaccines came on the scene after the fact to make the big bucks and claim victory.  Educate before you vaccinate.  My children are fully UN-VACCINATED and no one will make me feel guilty for not injecting them with improperly researched toxic sludge pushed on us by power hungry big pharma.

      • He was available as an “expert witness”. Wakefield was never hired by anyone to “discredit vaccinations”. It had absolutely nothing to do with his study, which was not conducted to discredit vaccinations at all. His published study indicated that MMR virus fragments were found in the bowels of autistic children. It never said MMR vaccines “cause autism”. But I bet you never read the actual study, just the hearsay from some media accounts. Since then several other independent studies have revealed the same findings. All autistic children have serious bowel issues. Just coincidence I suppose…

        • I haven’t read the study. Not all autistics have been vaccinated, though, so if you are saying they all have MMR virus fragments I’d be inerested in knowing how it ended up in the bowels of the non-vaccinated.

          Re your claim they all have bowel issues: are you claiming the MMR vaccine is responsible for that as well? If they all have bowel issues, how do you know that’s not the trigger for autism (or vice versa)?

          At best, all that can be said is that there may potentially be a link. There is no conclusive evidence as of yet. There IS conclusive evidence that vaccination programs can significantly reduce or eliminate illnesses that can in some cause long-term health issues or even death. Throwing out something with proven health benefits over unsubstantiated claims is to let emotions rule over logic. Understandable, perhaps, and very human – but far from wise.

          • Bowel issues are part of the overall symptomatology of autistic kids.
            There is no conclusive evidence that vaccination programs reduce or eliminate any illness — it’s just part of the manufacturers’ propaganda. Antibody production is merely a sign of exposure, not immunity. If you search the independent medical literature you’ll find that most of the common vaccines were developed when diseases like diptheria, polio, etc. were already on the wane.
            You can thank water purification and improvements in public sanitation, not vaccination.
            Vaccination theory is not universally accepted by epidemiologists.
            The only cause of polio since the 1980’s has been the vaccine.
            In any event, Wakefield is finally suing the BMJ, it’s editor Fiona Godlee and Brian Deer for libel. The bowel pathology reports were done by 2 independent pathologists who stand by their original findings.
            People who haven’t read all of the information in its entirety and just relying on what’s been written in the media are the victims of believing everything they read.

          • If there is anyone on this thread who are “victims of believing everything they read” it would be the vaccine deniers.
            It may be that certain vaccines are less effective than others, but to deny they don’t work is to deny the evidence. Go read up on smallpox; if you can provide a sane hypothesis of how it was eradicated that convincingly and authoritatively proves there is no connection between smallpox vaccination and its eradication, I might be able to take you seriously. It was certainly not eradicated by “water purification and improvements in public sanitation”.

            Are vaccines perfect? No. Do they create immunity in most recipients which, if provided to enough people, can greatly reduce if not eradicate certain diseases? Absolutely.The evidence is voluminous. It is statistically nigh on impossible for the correlation between the use of vaccination and the decline of the diseases vaccinated against to be coincidence.

            Yes there may be side effects. Yes, for some the vaccine fails to grant immunity. And yes, it seems that in some very rare cases the vaccine may cause the disease it is supposed to prevent. But statistically, the population as a whole is better off being vaccinated than not.

            I’m not going to flat-out state that Wakefield is wrong, but I will say the preponderance of evidence at this point is against his being right. Given the proven beneficial role of vaccinations to our well-being, you’re going to have to come up with stronger proof than currently exists before I’ll reconsider my stand that the anti-vaccinators are quacks and crackpots.

        • Wakefield’s “findings” of MMR in gut were totally discredited as a laboratory contamination during the Autism Omnibus Proceedings. Read Stephen Bustin’s testimony on Day 8.
          Wakefield’s “findings” have not been independently reproduced. Anyone who claims reproduction is affiliated with Wakefield or Thoughtful House.

          • Let’s see what really unravels as a result of Wakefield’s libel suit, and believe me, I’ll be reading the entire set of legal pleadings/testimony, not some abbreviated media account.
            Keep in mind that Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has major ties to GlaxoSmithKline as his son is their media liaison. Most major media outlets are afraid to criticize the pharma industry because they don’t wish to lose advertising revenue… you know, that stuff about biting the hand that feeds you. 

    • Would you say that maybe the increased number of kids diagnosed is because of the wide nature of the spectrum? Back in the day, kids were just “retarded” or “special” or “problem children”. It’s only been in the last 20 years or so that the autism spectrum has become much wider to support the diagnosis of a wider range of children.

    • Wakefeild’s research based on a group of 14 children which is too small a sample size to conclude anything. The selection methods were not scientifically sound. Even with all of these things his results are not repeatable and have been shown to be fraudulent. His paper has been discredited numerous times and withdrawn from the Lancet. These are facts. Vaccination is not a “theory” it is well understood. It works and has worked for a number of decades. Smallpox, look it up. I understand you are frustrated that your child has autism but if it was not for vaccinations and herd immunity it could be paralyzed due to polio, disfugered by smallpox, blind from fever or dead from a number of other diseases including the ones I have listed. To tell you who is helping you and your son…many people, researchers and physicians are studying autism, the causes and treatments. Theories like Wakefield’s that have been investigated and disproved time and again add nothing to their efforts and only detract from the resources that they have to help combat this affliction. 

    • Guy, Dr. Wakefield’s results were falsefied.  That is why he lost his medical license.  As for giving immunications before a child’s immune system is fully developed…my daughter got Whooping Cough at 6 weeks of age, two weeks before receiving her first vaccination.  She survived the illness although she was sick for about 3 months.  I am not sure when you think a baby’s immune system is developed but I can assure you that serious illnesses do not wait around.  Vaccination is not new to Canada.  I was vaccinated as a child in the 1960’s.  You seem concerned with the increasing diagnosis of autism.  Why do you believe given the long history of vaccination and better compliance in the past, that we are seeing more cases now?  I know we are screening for autism now.  We are looking for symptoms such as failure to make eye contact among babies with autism.  Perhaps in the past we underdiagnosed it or called it something else.

  3. “…putting everyone at risk”?*  Wouldn’t the people that have been immunized be in the category of protected and therefore not at risk if an outbreak were to occur?  87% of Canadians would be protected, no? 

    * Wouldn’t “…putting others at risk” have been more accurate?  That is really the case that is laid out in the body of the article.  Is it too much to ask, in matters so serious as public health, that the reportage is given free of needless scaremongering?  

    • I think that questioning the grammar of a subtitle is pretty redundant. And the point that was made near the end of the article was that by not having a high percentage of immunization, it puts children who are too young to get the vaccine at risk of contracting the disease and potentially dying as a result. 

      I also think, just in general, that the author is on the right track in highlighting this important issue. Public immunization has been happening for years, and we have statistics that show low frequency of negative consequences, especially compared to the frequency of deaths and/or permanent handicaps when immunization is ignored. The fact of the matter is, people are beginning to think that these diseases are gone, and so they become apathetic to warnings and start blaming other problems like autism on vaccinations (by the way, there are alternate theories on the rising prevalence of autism, but that’s a different discussion) when the science shows that complete disease eradication is only made possibly by the participation of the entire populus. 

      • I was not questioning grammar, as I did not make suggest fault in the mechanics of the sentence construction.  I was questioning the truth of the statement.  I brought it up because the author’s article did not support the contention that recidivism rates are putting us all at risk.  It is many things.  It is not “all”.  

        Treat serious subjects with seriousness, is my motto.  (When it suits me).

    • It does put everyone at risk, not all vaccinations are sucessful.  The article clearly illustrated a teacher who had been immunized contacting measles. 

      I had 2 bouts with chicken pox, the first didn’t leave me immune.  Luckily chicken pox is just irritating, not in the same class as polio.

      • Not everyone, but certainly a percentage of those inoculated would be at risk. One theory I read somewhere as to why people who have been vaccinated may still be vulnerable is that over time a lack of repeated exposure causes the body’s defenses to the virus to weaken. In the past, when contact with virus carriers was more prevalent, subsequent natural exposure resulted in a boost to the immune system. With the diseases nearly eradicated in the NA population, (re)exposure is rare and so the immune effects of the vaccine decrease over time.

        • Well put KBram! In a nut shell, that’s how vaccines work. If there’s one thing I strongly believe in Medicine, it’s in vaccination. Helps in preventing dangerous and deadly diseases. Also helps in decreasing uses of antibiotics and antiviral drugs to which many microorganisms have become resistant.

          VJ Basque

      • How do you get from a teacher catching measles, which has never come even close to being eradicated by immunization, to “put everyone at risk”?   Increased risk, sure.

        • The problem is that we are not exactly certain how long the immunity lasts from a vaccine.  We know that if you have a case of the measles you will likely get lifelong immunity but with vaccines it is not that clear cut…even if you take a blood titre.  Some vaccines (Tetanus) require a booster every 10 years.   We know the illness pertussis (Whooping Cough) is fairly common but not usually serious in adults even though it can be deadly for children.
          Kids get their last Measles booster at age 4 so if a high school teacher gets measles, he/she would be in contact with hundreds of kids more than 10 years after their last vaccine when possibly they have little or not immunity.  Then those hundreds of kids are in contact with their families and so on…

    • There is a certain percentage of failure in vaccination programs….not everyone that is vaccinated converts….becomes protected.  Also, there are certain people due to allergies or health issues that cannot be vaccinated.  Hence, the reason you need to vaccinate a certain percentage of the population to stop an outbreak.

    • Incorrect – “At the school, officials found, roughly four per cent of those who’d been vaccinated were felled by measles”.

      If a large enough % of us are vaccinated, the virus can be stopped from causing an outbreak. This is called ‘herd immunity’ [1].  By being unvaccinated, you are putting *everyone at risk*.


      • So 87% – 4% = 83% = everyone how?  It doesn’t.  You really need to be honest here.  It simply does not.  Everything else aside, it is not true.  

        Oh, and good luck getting a 90% of people to do anything anymore.  The reasons for this are the real threat to public health.  

  4. Parents think that vaccination can cause autism.  That’s easily answered isn’t it?  Show me the autistic people who were never vaccinated?  That’s a lot more difficult if not impossible, sorry about that. Show me also how ‘herd immunity’ works please.  Don’t merntion the Nash Equilibrium either, also used for carpet bombing.  Herd Immunity is a modern invention to reduce the amount of non-takeup of vaccines so as to make it impossible to compare vaccinated outcomes with non vaccinated outcomes.  It has failed to do that but it has mobilised the manufacturers and through them everyone else taking a piece of the pie not to collaborate with such studies.

    Tony Bateson
    Cheltenham, UK.

    • One of Kim Stagliano’s three daughters with autism is unvaccinated as far as I know. Bob Sears speaks of unvaccinated children in his practise who are unvaccinated (often similarly younger siblings of autistic vaccinated children) to name two vaccine critics who have no problem telling as it is: autism occurs without vaccination.

      • I seem to recall that Ms. Stagliano does blame her unvaccinated daughter’s autism on vaccination–it’s just that it’s the vaccines that Stagliano herself received as a child.

    • “Show me also how ‘herd immunity’ works please.”

      Why? The information is readily available. It’s a simple mathematical outcome. If you’re going to pretend that it’s a “modern invention” in service of some sort of cover-up, how about *you* explain why there are periodicities in disease outbreaks? They’re the same thing.

    • So you’re saying that the eradication of smallpox following a worldwide vaccination program was a happy coincidence?

  5. There is no scientific evidence that shows vaccination theory to be valid and mounting evidence to show that it is not. Antibody production is merely proof of exposure, not proof of immunity. Proof of immunity could be found in the body’s memory cells, however there is currently no way to test for that.
    The concept of “herd immunity” is a crock and has been proven to be false.
    Most major disease outbreaks occur in highly vaccinated populations.
    Vaccination does not prevent the vaccinated individual from spreading a virus, including spreading the virus fragments contained in a vaccine. In fact, this is how viruses can mutate.
    The epidemic rise in chronic “immune system” diseases can be attributed to vaccination triggering abnormal function in the individual.

    • Yes, that’s why polio and small pox are full blown epidemics in North America and people are dropping like flies.  

    • Please provide source material before you spew anymore obviously false information. 
      Thank goodness some of your claims are so ridiculous….’most major disease outbreaks occur in highly vaccinated populations’……that your credibility is zero.

  6. I am so tired of this vaccine BS.  All common sense goes out the window.  If you being vaccinated protects you from catching a disease (the whole point) why should you care if don’t get vaccinated?  Does the vaccine work or not?  If it works, then you shouldn’t ever get the disease for which you were vaccinated.

    Secondly, just because unvaccinated people have developed autism, that doesn’t prove vaccines do not cause and/or facilitate the onset of autism.  If a non-smoker who’s lived and worked their whole life in a non-smoking environment gets lung cancer, does that mean that smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer????  They really need to start teaching logic in school again.

    • It’s amazing that the Nirvana fallacy gets trotted out like clockwork by the antivax brigade. Seriously, this is your “gotcha” question? It’s sad, really.

    • If the human body was a simple machine instead of a complex combination of systems, we could explain why some people get mononucleosis more than once; get chicken pox more than once but we cannot.  Therefore your argument that once dose of vaccination should afford long long immunity is not anymore compelling than the argument that having the illness should afford life long immunity….sometimes that is not what happens.  The same came be said for allergies.  Allergies wane given time.  A person can be highly allergic to penicllin and then 20 years later have a less intense reaction….why is that?  Something obviously changes in the human body to the number of antibodies that have been made when there is no exposure to the antigen (illness/penicillin, etc).  You will have to come up with another more logical argument against vaccines if you want to say they don’t work than using waning immunity.

  7. Ugh…so many lies (or just ignorant comments) in this article.

    “According to the World Health Organization, measles was eradicated from the Americas in 2002”

    No! According to the CDC there are STILL cases of measles popping up all over the US. Not many, but they are there. Outbreaks are not unusual. This from a health advisory just last year: “Pennsylvania is currently experiencing its third outbreak of measles this year. This outbreak is occurring in the eastern part of the state.” So yeah, this outbreak is really nothing to scream about.

    So stupid. The author does not tell us if this is the wild strain of the disease or if this from someone who got sick from the vaccine…

    The author says, “Wilson found that about one in 168 who got the MMR shot (measles, mumps
    and rubella) at 12 months went to hospital between four and 12 days
    afterwards.” So let me get this straight. A few hundred people got measles during this outbreak (not all of them hospitalized) but you want to deliberately hospitalize 1 out of every 168 that get the vaccine? If only 1,000,000 people get the vaccine (Actually WAY more get it, but let’s do easy math) nearly 6,000 people will be hospitalized!! 6,000!!! So why would I get the vaccine??? I have a greater chance of getting sick from the vaccine than I would by getting it naturally. Come on people. Wake up.

    • “So stupid. The author does not tell us if this is the wild strain of the disease or if this from someone who got sick from the vaccine…”

      By all means, provide a single instance of MMR *causing* measles.

      • The author already did that. He noted that 1 our of every 168 people that get the Measles vaccine are hospitalized. You don’t think they are being hospitalized for a hangnails do you?

        • Um, no; 168 “went to hospital,” not “were hospitalized.” This is not, in any event, an answer to the question. Show me a case of measles caused by the MMR.

          • Thank you for correcting my grammar. 1 out of 168 went to the hospital. But might not have spent time there. Funny how they didn’t just go to their primary care doc. Symptoms were bad enough to go to the hospital. You know the old saying, if it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, etc…. yeah if the symptoms look, sound, smell like measles…guess what? It’s measles!! So basically 1 out of 168 went to the hospital with symptoms of measles. Sounds like a duck to me. I’ll avoid those symptoms. I’ll stick with the minority that took a chance by not vaccinating. Odds are WAAAAY less by simply not vaccinating. I don’t like getting symptoms of measles.

            I like how you also picked up getting me to prove something you don’t believe exists rather than you admitting the flaws in the article which I also pointed out. Interesting how you turn a blind eye to that but focus on a minor point…. interesting.

            No thanks, I’ll skip my MMR vaccine and so will my daughter. We will be healthier for it.

          • “yeah if the symptoms look, sound, smell like measles…guess what? It’s measles!!”

            This is asinine. Why aren’t you claiming that it’s also mumps and rubella? Go read the study, it’s open-access.


          • Steve, you cannot get the measles from the vaccine.  What is in the vaccine is an incomplete strand of measles virus.  This incomplete strand WILL cause an immune response in your body, which means your body will start making antibodies to the measles so if your body encounters the measles virus, your body will go on the attack and kill the virus before it infects you.  After you receive the vaccine and while your body is making those antibodies, it is common that your body mounts an immune response because the vaccine has fooled your body into believing that there is an intruder.  Therefore it is normal to have a low level fever and other signs of illness but it is not the measles.  It is understandable that people get concerned especially during an outbreak and if the symptoms are delayed.  If you look at the symptoms as a “good sign” that you are having a positive response to the vaccine…that you are making antibodies and mounting an immune response then you know the vaccine is doing its job.  It is defintely NOT waaay easier to wait until there is an outbreak and you and your daughter get a full-blown case of the measles.  You both will be very ill.  You do not have to take healthcare providers’ word for it.  Most people have much respect for David Suzuki as a scientist.  He is absolutely pro-vaccination.

  8. Bull crap reporting or should I say distorting? “Herd Immunity” has never been proven and will never be proven. For those of you that are pro-vaccine… A couple of questions: Did you ever ready the ingredients via the product insert and research for yourselves the autoimmune disease that are linked to many vaccines? Do you believe in coerced medication? Do you beleive 1 drug is good for all? Articles like this are only about a Wolrd View manipulation also known as “Social Engineering”. Wake up people and THINK for yourselves. Considering many doctors receive funding from the very companies that push this poison, I think I’ll pass until I’ve read all the literature on any drug seeing as most of the side effects list is longer than any commercial promoting such junk!

    • ‘”Herd Immunity” has never been proven and will never be proven.’

      It’s certainly been proved in a far stricter sense than any of the other baseless assertions in your paranoid rant, being, you know, *the result of solving two differential equations*. What part of ds/dt = -asi, di/dt = asi – bi, do you take exception to?

    • on which planet do you live, I wonder. On my planet, herd immunity works all the time – especially in the US. 212 measles cases, half of them imported, in 300 million inhabitants in a year is rock hard evidence for herd immunity. Austria had 174 cases in one school (population 300, vaccination coverage 20%) in three weeks, only one of them imported. A Bavarian county had 1 in 5 unvaccinated child catch measles over one winter (1080 cases in a population of about 100.000, vaccination coverage 76%) over one winter.

      Vaccination is saving lives on my planet, every day.

      oh and yes, I do read (and understand) package inserts.
      And yes, vaccines are good for all.

    • Find me a single occurrence of smallpox. Or evidence that its eradication was due to something other than the worldwide vaccination that immediately preceded its extinction.

    • Yes to your question about reading the ingredients on the vaccine….you can read it too if you go to the site of the producer….what do you have an issue with….polymixin B?   Thimersol is not in children’s vaccines as they are individually packaged in vials.  Would love to hear about the autoimmune disorders linked to vaccines….I only know of one that is rare…Guillian Barre
      Syndrome (1 case per million vaccinations – with an 80% complex recovery rate starting within one month).  Maybe you would like to research how many babies got Pertusis (Whooping
      Cough) in California in the first 5 months of 2010 (912 cases & 5 deaths).  As for your assertion that physicians receive kickbacks for innoculating children… much of Canada vaccinating is done by public health nurses with NO physician involvement so there goes that theory.  Chances are YOU were vaccinated because your parents wanted to keep you from experiencing a horrible, deadly disease.  The truth is that the reason we vaccinate is to save money and lives.  There are no cures for most of the illnesses and many are deadly for young children.  People in Africa would give anything to have access to the vaccines that are turned away by Canadians who are too young to remember the horrors of polio. 

  9. The concept of herd immunity has been discredited for years now.
    There has never ever been actual scientific proof for vaccination and never will be. When people find out that vaccination has never been subjected to randomized placebo controlled blinded trials it completely blows the “science” aspect out the window. The manufacturers can’t prove the theory works. Their studies are focussed on creating antibodies in an injected animal. This is just proof of exposure, not immunity. The notion that an immunized individual can’t spread a virus has never been proven and is just as bogus.

    • Anyone who thinks smallpox went extinct all on its own is a fool. Unless you can show conclusively something other than the worldwide vaccination program is responsible, you’d have to be an idiot to say there is no proof that vaccination works.

      You might want to ask why no one seems to get polio in North America anymore. Or all those childhood diseases. And why they are more prevalent in areas of the world with spotty vaccination records.

      • You, too, may want to ask why no one seems to get polio in North America anymore – then contemplate the fact that the year after the introduction of the vaccine, the CDC drastically changed the diagnostic parameters of the disease and the definition of a polio epidemic, in a de facto “eradication” of upwards of 90% of the cases. Who needs vaccine effectiveness, when you have sleight-of-hand? So much for public service.

        • No one seems to get polio in NA anymore beause it has been eradicated.

          I did a perfunctory search on the web and didn’t find what you are referring to; do you have a link? I did discover, though, that 90% of those infected with poliovirus are asymptomatic, which nicely aligns with your figures, so I’m assuming for now that the change was that they went from counting all those who were infected to those who developed symptoms. Given the level of fear and the politics of the time, it may have seemed wise to switch to only counting those with symptoms.

          WHO started a global polio eradication effort in 1988, and today large sections of the planet – including NA – are considered polio-free. India, long one of the areas with the highest rates of polio, is reporting today that no new cases have been reported in the past year – see e.g.:


          • In 1960, the Illinois Medical Society held a panel to discuss the ongoing problems with the polio vaccination campaign. Three PhD statisticians and an MD, all well versed in the history of the vaccine, discussed all I mentioned, and much more. The transcript of that panel discussion can be found at:


            The CDC changes affected those who displayed symptomatically; where the old parameter required symptoms such as muscle pain or partial paralysis to last only 24 hours, the new required 60 days of such display, and since the majority of people who displayed symptoms of polio recovered within a couple of weeks, that diagnostic change automatically “eradicated” the great percentage of polio. In your statement that it simply may have seemed wise to switch to only counting those with symptoms, it’s as though you’re excusing the still-poignant fact that in subsequently announcing that the vaccine was eradicating the disease, without mentioning the drastic reduction in diagnoses caused by the official diagnostic changes, the CDC was being deceptive. As a grandfather, I can find no justification for any excuse, especially when, as you read through the transcript, you also discover that after the introduction of the vaccine, many cases of polio were simply re-labeled, as aseptic meningitis, or other ailments the symptoms of which are similar to polio, especially severe muscle fatigue or partial paralysis.

            My concern does not extend beyond the United States, and the terribly misleading information provided its citizens. As Bernard Greenberg, one of the statisticians, said in his opening remarks, “As [a statistician], my primary concern, my only concern, is the very misleading way that most of this data has been handled from a statistical point of view.” I have a history to reference for the U.S., but have no such information vis-a-vis the rest of the world – nor any reason to think that the attendant “eradication” would be any more valid; the WHO and the CDC work hand in hand.

    • Where do you get this stuff from?  If antibodies were “just proof of exposure” than mothers with Rh negative blood would have nothing to worry about when it came to giving birth to babies with Rh positive babies but we know different don’t we.  Antibodies are part of the immune system.  They recognize foreign antigens cause an immune response and that puts the body on attack against the foreign intruder.  How those antigens that result in antibodies are introduced to the body…through illness or vaccine is irrelevant…once the antibodies are made in sufficient quantity, the result is the same….an immune response.  I would be very interested in your source material.

      • Apparently, you feel the “immune response” you reference to be synonymous with immunity, since you include the descriptive phrase, “once the antibodies are made in sufficient quantity”. Yet, it is simple fact that in the various outbreaks that do occur, typically more than half the kids – sometimes all of them – are vaccinated, many of them completely up to date with the recommended boosters. Perhaps the fact that vaccinations trigger only half the immune system – the humoral – comes into play.

  10. Vaccination rates are plummeting because concerned parents are educating about the effectiveness of vaccines and the muffled history of the nature and extent of vaccine damage, including chronic illnesses, autoimmune diseases and death, and determining that the risks associated with vaccination far outweigh the risks of disease.

  11. Dr Wakefield’s study had been replicated by scientists in 5 different countries.  Dr Wakefield, by the way, did not recommend canning the MMR vaccine.  He recommended that the pharmaceutical companies produce single vaccines for each of the three diseases:  that they become de-combined.  That in itself it an extremely costly redux.  Wakefield also did not imply that every kid who gets the MMR will develop autism – it depends on a many factors; he just found that those with autism, frequently had a cultivated form of measles in the bowel. 
    As a side note, I am not against vaccinations.  I am disheartened that the schedule we have now is 3 times what is was when I was a child.  There are many scientists who agree that heavy metal build-up contributes to many degenerative diseases and we absorb aluminum and mercury when we are vaccinated.  If we eat a tin of tuna, we excrete 99% of the mercury.  If that mercury is injected into the bloodstream as contained in a vaccine, our bodies only excrete approx. 1% of the mercury.  Why is there no admission among the establishment that vaccines are part of the toxic load?  I’ll tell you why.  MD’s are indoctrinated in the belief that vaccines are the answer to keeping our society healthy and they are unable to assimilate information that casts vaccines in a negative light.

  12. Jenny McCarthy literaaly know nothing at all about Autism, In my opinion her son was misdiagnosed

    • Sad that you think because she took control and stuck with a treatment plan that her son was simply misdiagnosed. I think the mother of the child would have a pretty good idea and the treating healthcare providers. It’s up to parents to make informed decisions initially and deal with the consequences either way.

  13. I’m the parent of a child with severe autism.. I vaccinate my children because these aren’t small illnesses that they’re being protected against, they’re pretty serious ones that can actually kill them. I honestly don’t believe that they cause autism. Genetics probably plays a HUGE role; you don’t have to be affected by a disorder or a disease to pass it on to future generations, you just need to be a carrier of that gene. Also, keep in mind that ANY medication can have an adverse effect.Trust me, autism isn’t the end of the world.. I can think of many things that would be much worse than my child being autistic.

  14. “In general, medical measures (both chemotherapeutic and prophylactic) appear to have contributed little to the overall decline in mortality in the United States since about 1900-having in many instances been introduced several decades after a marked decline had already set in and having no detectable influence in most instances. More specifically, with reference to those five conditions (influenza, pneumonia, diphtheria, whooping cough, and poliomyelitis) for which the decline in mortality appears substantial after the point of intervention-and on the unlikely assumption that all of this decline is attributable to the intervention-it is estimated that at most 3.5 percent of the total decline in mortality since 1900 could be ascribed to medical measures introduced for the diseases considered here.”
    From: The Questionable Contribution of Medical Measures to the Decline of Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth Century, John B. McKinlay; Sonja M. McKinlay, The Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly. Health and Society, Vol. 55, No. 3. (Summer, 1977), pp.405-428.

  15. Typical conspiracy theory logic – try to prove a negative.  Can’t be done.   Confirmation bias at its finest – once people buy into the junk theory that vaccinations “might be” harmful, there is no amount of logic or reason that will ever make them see otherwise, and they will selfishly put the majority at risk.