Measles vaccine coverage stagnant – increased measles cases in 2017

measles vaccine coverage

According to new research published by the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide measles cases have spiked in 2017. Multiple countries have reported severe and protracted measles outbreaks over the past year. Because of large gaps in measles vaccine coverage across the world, there were an estimated 110,000 worldwide measles-related deaths in 2017.

Let me repeat that – 110,000 measles-related deaths in 2017. This is a disease that the anti-vaccine religion will claim over and over that it’s not a very dangerous disease. Even in the USA, where it is estimated that 1-2 children will die out of 1,000 infected by measles, it is still a dangerous disease. Of course, anti-vaxxers dismiss that risk of death as “low,” showing little empathy for children that die of measles every year.

There are other serious complications of measles:

Measles is not trivial. And the only way to prevent the highly contagious disease is with two doses of the measles vaccineContinue reading “Measles vaccine coverage stagnant – increased measles cases in 2017”

Vaccines cause autism debate – it only exists in the minds of vaccine deniers

vaccines cause autism debate

In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post last month, New England pediatrician Daniel Summers effectively wrote that the so-called vaccines cause autism debate was over. He wrote, “not merely one study or two, but study after study after study confirms that vaccines are safe, and that there is no connection with autism.” In fact, there are 100s of studies, many of them with a huge number of data points, that have shown no correlation, let alone causation, between vaccines and autism. None.

Other than stating that I objectively support Dr. Summers’ statements and conclusions, I don’t have much else to say. But you and I know that an op-ed piece by a real doctor will be noticed by someone in the vaccine denier world, and they will pull out every single trope, myth, and conspiracy theory to claim that Dr. Summers is wrong and that there really is a “vaccines cause autism debate.”

I came across an article by Jeremy R Hammond in the right wing alternative news website, Personal Liberty, which attacked Dr. Summers with those aforementioned tropes, myths, and conspiracy theories. The same ones you’d see from any of your standard, run-of-the-mill vaccine denier.

Let’s take a look at Hammond’s article. Generally, I can only get through about half of an anti-vaccine article when I have to stop because I’m banging my head against the desk too much. I need to protect the neurons in my brain from further damage. But I will try to persevere in the name of science.

Continue reading “Vaccines cause autism debate – it only exists in the minds of vaccine deniers”

Varicella vaccine effectiveness – more supporting evidence

varicella vaccine effectiveness

The varicella vaccination for chickenpox was introduced in the mid-1990’s in the USA and has been associated with substantial and statistically significant declines in incidencehospitalizations and deaths attributable to chickenpox. Thanks to  real science, more evidence supports varicella vaccine effectiveness.

Despite the beliefs of vaccine refusers, who have stated emphatically that chickenpox is not dangerous, the real complications from a varicella infection are numerous and serious:

  • dehydration
  • pneumonia
  • bleeding problems
  • infection or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis, cerebellar ataxia)
  • bacterial infections of the skin and soft tissues in children including Group A streptococcal infections
  • blood stream infections (sepsis)
  • toxic shock syndrome
  • bone infections
  • joint infections

Since I was born before the chicken pox vaccine, I contracted the disease, which eventually lead to encephalitis. I have vivid memories of being a five year old child and being admitted into the ER with a brain infection. It’s a memory I’d rather not have.

The anti-vaccine gang love to question the effectiveness of vaccines. But they don’t have evidence of that, whereas, I’m going to present some powerful evidence that the varicella vaccine is highly effective in preventing chickenpox.

Continue reading “Varicella vaccine effectiveness – more supporting evidence”

This Papa is scared of the shmeasles measles

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in June 2014. It has been revised and updated to improve readability and correct and update some information

This is 2014. We have sent people to the moon. I can be in contact with people from Australia, Germany, Israel, or someone a few blocks away from me (whom I’ve never actually met in person) without stepping away from my computer. I can see photos of my lovely and brilliant daughters, without having to thumb through an album with fading Kodak photographs.

And you know what else? Our modern medicine can prevent measles: in 2000, it was declared non-endemic in the United States, meaning that there were no wild measles viruses floating around the USA. It was considered one of the great public health victories, along with eliminating smallpox and polio (almost, give it a year or so).

But now measles is coming back. In 2014, the United States is seeing the highest number of cases since 1994. It’s in the few hundreds at this point, but that’s way more than before and the trend is worrying. In the past years, Europe had seen tens of thousands of cases of measles, along with numerous hospitalizations and death. This is unnecessary suffering: we have an extremely effective and safe vaccine against measles. But like brakes, seatbelts, and bulletproof vests, it tends not to work as well if you don’t use it.

Thanks to anti-vaccine misinformation, the rate of vaccination against the measles has dropped slightly. Problematically, the decline in vaccination isn’t evenly distributed across the country, pockets of unvaccinated occur in various locations, where just a child who picks up the disease in a foreign country can quickly spread it through a community. Continue reading “This Papa is scared of the shmeasles measles”

Legal liability of antivaccination parents whose children infect others

One of my favorite TV programs is Law & Order:SVU, an American police procedural crime drama television series set in New York City. It usually bases episodes on real news stories, but putting some twist on them. And for fans of the show, it is addicting.

In the spring of 2009, an episode entitled Selfish aired. The plot was about an immature, irresponsible young mother who was assumed to have killed her child. In a major plot twist (and actually one that caught me by surprise), the coroner determines that the child died from measles, in what turned out to be an outbreak of the disease in fictional New York City.  The Assistant District Attorney then decides to prosecute the mother of the child who started the measles outbreak because she had refused to immunize her child for all of the reasons popularized by the vaccine deniers. Unfortunately, the producers of the show didn’t give us the full satisfaction of having that mother spend time in prison (and if one looked at the episode with even amateur legal eyes, it probably wasn’t going to happen). 

But the episode is popular with many of us on the pro-science side, and I have tweeted when the episode is on a rerun somewhere. Continue reading “Legal liability of antivaccination parents whose children infect others”

Measles vaccine may be more effective if administered slightly later

A new research study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases has demonstrated that the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) was more effective in teenagers who received their first dose of the two dose series at 15 months rather than at 12 months. The study was based on a more than 750 cases in 2011 of measles were reported in Quebec, Canada. Those individuals had received the routine 2-dose measles immunization schedule which is given at 12 and 18 months of age, which had been in effect in Quebec since 1996. This study assessed the effectiveness of this schedule during this outbreak that occurred during high school. Continue reading “Measles vaccine may be more effective if administered slightly later”

Measles–outbreak in England grows

 

Child with measles rash after 3 days. Credit to Centers for Disease Control.

As reported earlier, Merseyside, a city in northwest England, is experiencing a significant measles out break. The number of confirmed cases in Merseyside has exceeded 300, making it the largest measles outbreak in the that part of England since 1988.

According to the BBC, there have been 301 confirmed measles cases in the area, 90 of which are in teenagers. Although the number of children who receive the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella has reached an all-time high, young adults and teenagers are still at risk, according to the BBC. Continue reading “Measles–outbreak in England grows”